The Attorney General’s Office accused a Fort Morgan mobile home park owner of engaging in voter intimidation by threatening to raise rents if Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden is elected.
In a cease and desist letter dated Oct. 23, First Assistant Attorney General Rob Shapiro told mobile home park owner Edward Bernard “Bernie” Pagel that a letter Pagel sent to his tenants on Oct. 19 constituted voter intimidation.
Pagel had hand-delivered the notice to his tenants warning of the implications of a Biden win — and the benefits they’d receive if President Donald Trump won reelection.
“If Trump wins, we all win, if Biden wins, we all lose,” the notice read.
“Please understand IF Joe Biden is elected as our next president, everything you do and have to pay for will change completely. Everything will be increased. Like paying ALOT (sic) more in taxes, utilities, gasoline, new permits, fees and regulations .. everything! This also means YOUR RENT will be increased to cover these expenses. Most likely rent would DOUBLE in price!” the notice said. “IF the current president is re-elected, WE WILL NOT RAISE THE RENT FOR AT LEAST 2 YEARS. Voting is a choice and we are not telling you how to vote. WE are just informing our tenants what WE will do according to the election results.”
In the cease and desist notice, Shapiro called this “economic coercion” and a violation of state law.
“The Pagel Notice constitutes unlawful voter intimidation,” the notice said. “In particular, the Pagel Notice attempts to induce homeowners/tenants to vote against a particular candidate by stating a significant increase in rent prices if one candidate wins the presidential election.”
Stories about ballot integrity and election security in Colorado:
- In Case Things Get Chaotic Ahead Of (Or After) Election Day, Officials Are Preparing For Everything From Misinformation To Blizzards
- Social Media Foments Stories of Voter Intimidation But Local Officials Say So Far They Aren’t True
- Uncounted Votes In Colorado: Diverse Areas And Younger Voters More Likely To Have Ballots Rejected
- A Short Guide To Signing The Back Of Your Mail-In Ballot
The notice from the attorney general’s office warns Pagel to cease all communications to tenants implying any consequences resulting from any election or their votes for or against any candidate in the election.
The attorney general’s office also warns Pagel to take no action related to rents, fees or other charges paid by tenants and cautions against taking retaliatory action against any individuals who complained about the notice.
Pagel did not answer an immediate phone call for comment. He has until Oct. 30 to acknowledge receipt of the cease and desist notice — and the attorney general's letter warns that he faces further legal action in the form of either a lawsuit or a criminal charge if he does not cease and desist.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office on Wednesday could not comment on whether Pagel has acknowledged receiving the notice.
You are one of the CPR readers who wants to know what is really going on these days. We can help you keep up - The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!