KimKgate is growing into a scandal for Gov. Jared Polis, and it is not going away.
On Dec. 21 social media megastar Kim Kardashian West posted a Tweet that the 110-year sentence for Trucker Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, who killed four people and seriously injured six others in a fiery crash on Interstate 70, was “unfair” and then wheedled Polis: “@GovofCO is a really good person and I know he will do the right thing.”
For Polis, Kardashian’s cajoling tweet to her 70.9 million followers (more than CNN and FoxNews … combined and four times more than President Joe Biden) was — apparently — overwhelming and successful. The Denver Post editorial board was the first to recklessly urge Polis to grant clemency to Mederos, and an online petition for sentence reduction followed.
Only nine days later — inclusive of the Christmas holiday — Polis frenetically exercised the massive clemency powers of the office he currently holds in an unprecedented, Kardashian-pleasing way.
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Polis hijacked the judicial process, which had already scheduled a hearing to resentence Mederos. He reduced the sentence to a mere ten years — a low sentence for the amount of criminally-caused death and injury.
Colorado law mandates Polis send Mederos’ clemency application to the district attorney who handled the case, Alexis King, and the sentencing judge and to allow them “not less than fourteen days” to comment on the application before Polis acts on it. I’m skeptical there was time for the judge and district attorney to get the application, let alone send comments to Polis as required by the law. It is unclear if Polis complied with Colorado law.
Colorado has never seen anything like this from a sitting governor. Why did Polis do it?
9NEWS reported that supporters say Polis spoke with Kardashian before he rendered his baffling clemency decision. If true, Polis spoke to Kardashian before he revealed his decision to the displeased victims. Such conduct is beneath a governor, it is disrespectful and insulting to those who will deal with the homicidal outcome of Mederos’ actions for decades beyond the mere five years Mederos is likely to spend in prison.
Kardashian is not a Colorado voter or even a Coloradan. She possesses no special information or insight into the Mederos case. She has never spoken to the victims. Yet, Polis may have spoken with her about his future clemency decision … before he spoke with the victims.
Coloradans deserve to know who has influence over our governor in the exercise of his powers. How many Twitter followers must someone have before they get direct access to Polis? We deserve to know what Polis discussed with Kardashian about the Colorado case and the sentencing for it.
KimKgate is now more serious than the ugly optics of a seemingly elitist governor whose craving for social media approval led him to Keep Up with a Kardashian, instead of the victims. This is now about Polis’ credibility and fitness for office.
Last week, 9News’ Kyle Clark asked Polis: “What did Kim Kardashian West want you to do?”
Polis coyly answered: “Well, I haven’t read all of her tweets. I don’t know.” The intended suggestion from Polis’ answer is clear. He never spoke with her. But Polis lacks the candor to directly answer whether he spoke with Kardashian or not.
If Polis did not consult with Kardashian before making his clemency decision, he would have said so by now.
Yet, when Polis ultimately admits — or is forced to admit — that he consulted with Kardashian, he will have no justification for having misled Coloradans. Polis cannot claim he did not think it was a big deal, because he has made it a big deal.
Polis’ communications staff told The Denver Post that Polis refuses to answer any questions about contact with Kardashian. Huh? Polis is not above public scrutiny. When he dodges legitimate media questions about the exercise of the powers of his office, it is contemptuous of Coloradans and an effort to avoid accountability.
Polis likely perceives this will all go away and Coloradans will let him tell them what they are entitled to know. That is the imperious thinking of a disconnected rich guy, who does as he pleases. It is also far less than Colorado expected of him and deserves from him. This is the kind of cover-up that could haunt and define Polis’ administration.
The only issues that remain are when Polis will finally be honest with, and with what other Colorado policies can Kardashian advise him? Dear Kardashian, please tell our governor to repeal the new gas fee permanently … and about that local collective bargaining mandate.
Perhaps Poli’s new governing policy is WWKD? What Would Kim Do?
George Brauchler is a former district attorney from the 18th Judicial District in Aurora and is a regular columnist for The Denver Post.
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