Sen. Pete Lee signing SB124

Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, comments on Senate Bill 124, which changes the sentences for felony murder, during an April 26, 2021, signing ceremony.

Updated at 9 p.m. with statement from Sen. Lee.

An El Paso County fourth judicial district grand jury has indicted state Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, on a Class 5 felony charge of falsifying his residence address for electoral purposes.

Lee, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is known for his sponsorship of criminal justice reform legislation. He was first elected to the House in 2010 and to the state Senate in 2018. He was supposed to run for reelection in 2022, but redistricting maps placed him in the same Senate district as Republican Sen. Bob Gardner, who was elected to his final term in office in 2020.

State law says “nothing in a redistricting plan removes a senator from office for the term to which the senator was elected. Under the constitution and that statute, if a senator elected in 2018 is drawn into a district with a senator elected in 2020, the senator elected in 2020 is entitled to serve until the election in 2024, and the other senator must wait until that election.”

State law requires state lawmakers to reside in the district they represent for at least 12 months prior to election. Lee moved in 2021 to an address that appears to be outside of his current Senate district.

Lee has voluntarily stepped away from interim committee assignments.

In a statement, Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said, "Senator Pete Lee is a dedicated public servant who has spent his career supporting his community and working to improve the lives of all Coloradans. I trust he'll have a fair opportunity to be heard and that the legal process will allow for an airing of all of the facts."

Fenberg added: "At his request, Senator Lee has been removed from his interim committee assignments until this matter is resolved."

Lee also serves on the joint Committee on Legal Services and the Senate committees on finance and state affairs.

Conviction on a class 5 felony carries a potential sentence of one to three years in state prison and/or $1,000 to $100,000 in fines, with a two-year parole period.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Lee said "I have been informed that Republican El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen has alleged that two years ago I violated the voter residence law for voting in a district where he claims I did not reside. There is no accusation of voting at more than one location. I have just recently received the actual charge and have yet to obtain all pertinent information, so I cannot comment on the allegation. I have engaged counsel to evaluate the one charge and related issues."

"While the DA’s charge has no connection to my official duties as an elected official, I place great value in the trust that Colorado voters give to their elected officials and have spent my career working to uphold those ideals. Therefore, to avoid having my personal circumstances become a distraction, I have asked the Senate Majority Leader to replace me on the Interim Committees on Judicial Discipline and Behavioral Health in the Criminal Justice System."

The case is scheduled for a 10 a.m. hearing on Sept. 8.

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