UPDATE: Lathen levels charges of political-payoff offer

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Lathen: No to "dirty politics." - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Lathen: No to "dirty politics."
Via email, mayoral candidate John Suthers has this to say about Lathen's allegations: "I am not aware of any offer made to Ms. Lathen by anyone. Certainly no one was authorized to do so. Who is the 'unnamed person'? She should be willing to name them. I am not aware of any smear campaign or threats. Why doesn't she name the source of the threat? This is nonsense."

—-ORIGINAL POST WED. FEB. 18, 2015, 5:59 P.M.————

Amy Lathen, a leading candidate for Colorado Springs mayor, tells the Independent she was offered the position of mayoral chief of staff in a John Suthers administration, if she'd drop out of the race.

Her response, she says, was an emphatic no.

Lathen, a sitting El Paso County commissioner, wouldn't reveal who proposed the quid pro quo, but said the offer came via phone about three weeks ago from a "businessman" who is among those funding Suthers' campaign. Asked if that person seemed to be representing Suthers at the time, she says, "It was not portrayed that way."

Suthers has denied that his camp was involved in any such offer. 

Lathen says she's heard other similar "suggestions" as to what she might do, since last fall. (Again, she won't reveal sources.) She adds that she has been threatened with a smear campaign, which would allege that she had an affair with former Sheriff Terry Maketa, a charge she denies and dismisses as "dirty politics."

"I have never even been alone with the guy," she said in a Wednesday afternoon interview. "This is sick."

"My husband, my family, my home," she adds, "are sacred to me."

The allegations come as Lathen trails Suthers, former Colorado attorney general, in fundraising. She's raised roughly $80,000, while Suthers has raked in about $241,000. Former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace and former City Councilor Joel Miller also are running in the April 7 election and have raised lesser amounts than Lathen.

"I made a commitment to people in this community to do something different in the city, and I am going to fulfill my commitment in this race," she says. "I'm not looking for a job. I've got a job. I don't want anybody to get me a job."

"I find it interesting that I am to assume there are these deals to be made," she adds. "I'm very disappointed about the kind of politics going on in this race. We don't need any more negativity. I think the politics stink. This is why a lot of good people don't run for office."

Lathen has pledged to end the business personal property tax in the city, advance infill development, look for ways to regionalize government, and focus on economic development to create jobs. "I'm really good at local governance, and there's no other agenda. I'm not going to be threatened and coerced."

Lathen didn't outline any theories of why certain factions would want Suthers elected.

When the tit-for-tat rumor surfaced about two weeks ago, the Indy asked Lathen and Suthers about whether there had been offers made by the Suthers camp to Lathen.

At that time, Lathen said in a text message, "I've heard that rumor, too. Nobody from Suthers camp has approached me, but if they do, I am not interested. I'm running for Mayor because 1. I have unmatched local government experience, 2. I have specific ways to improve the business climate in the city, 3. I will change the tone and functionality of this city."

Said Suthers via text message on Feb. 2, "I assure you no one who works for my campaign (ie, "my camp") has had any such conversations."

We've asked Suthers to comment on what Lathen is saying now. When we hear back, we'll update this blog.

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