El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder is steamed at state Rep. Leslie Herod over how she handled his chief of staff during a legislative hearing this week.
He claimed the debate violated the House's workplace conduct rules.
"This is a public hearing, one meant to let people have a say in legislation," he wrote in the letter to House Speaker KC Becker, obtained by Colorado Politics. "For Representative Herod to use it to publicly humiliate a member of this state's law enforcement community the way she did is unacceptable and a clear violation of the House workplace expectation and policies.
"This is NOT the first or only incident with Representative Herod over the last couple of years, but this certainly was the most egregious."
During an eight-hour hearing on a handful of justice bills before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday night, Herod pressed Janet Huffor, Elder's chief of staff and legislative liaison, on the source of some of her information.
They were debating House Bill 1278, legislation that would require those suspected of domestic violence from disclosing how many guns they own and have in their immediate control.
Huffor spoke on behalf of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and for the County Sheriff's of Colorado. They opposed the bill because it did not provide enough guidance on how law enforcement would manage the storage or sale of firearms that are confiscated.
She said some people would have "pallets of ammo" that would be costly to store and most sheriffs do not want to do it. Huffor said El Paso County averages about 15 domestic violence arrests a day.
"It's rare someone has just one weapon," she told the committee. "It's more in the 20 to 30 or more (range)."
Herod asked Huffor, "Can you tell me where you found that stat, that El Paso County gun owners have 20 to 30 weapons?"
Huffor replied, "I'm making an estimation based on some of the average gun owners I know in El Paso County. I'm giving you that as an average. I'm not pulling the statistic from anywhere."
Herod said in the meeting that she found that to be a "gross exaggeration, and I think it's irresponsible to state that to this committee without any kind of evidence backing that up."
She told Colorado Politics Friday night that she used to live in El Paso County and comes from a military family, many of whom are gun owners. "They have nowhere near that many weapons," Herod said.
Becker said in a text Friday night that she had no comment on the matter.
Herod is an influential Denver Democrat who has been a leading social justice reformer in the Legislature. In his letter, he called out "Herod's flagrantly disrespectful and disgraceful form of political thuggery and intimidation."
Reached in San Francisco, just before she was to speak to The Justice Collaborative about her work, Herod said he was surprised Elder was so thin-skinned.
"These kinds of tough discussions happen every day at the Legislature," she said. "Why am I the one who gets a complaint, and it's sent to the press?"
She conceded her relationship with Elder has been strained in the past over policies, but she said it wasn't personal.
On her comments at the hearing, Herod said, "I'm not going to accept people who aren't being truthful."
Jacqueline Kirby, a spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, confirmed the authenticity of the letter, but declined to comment beyond what it states.