Former El Paso Clerk staffer under investigation for voter fraud

One-time chief deputy and communications manager Alissa Vander Veen appears to have tried to bend residency rules

Former El Paso Clerk staffer under investigation for voter fraud

DENVER — At the end of October, El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams sent to the district attorney’s office the names of 18 voters suspected of committing fraud in the September election to recall state Sen. John Morse. One of the names may have been Alissa Vander Veen, the name of Clerk Williams’s former chief deputy and communications manager.

Vander Veen reportedly voted in the hot-button recall election even though it appears she was no longer a legal resident of Morse’s Senate District 11 in El Paso. Vander Veen is a Colorado Springs native, but according to state records, she took a Veterans Association loan to buy a house in Pueblo last November. Those loans require borrowers to certify that they intend to use the property as their main residency.

Vander Veen didn’t return calls seeking comment.

She left the Clerk and Recorder’s Office in February 2013 to take a marketing job with Challenger Homes, a company owned by 2011 Colorado Springs mayoral candidate Brian Bahr — who also hired Vander Veen to work on his campaign.

El Paso County District Attorney Dan May apparently reviewed Vander Veen’s case along with the cases referred to him by Williams and forwarded it to the Colorado attorney general for investigation.

A spokesperson at May’s office said she couldn’t release any information on the case.

Carolyn Tyler, attorney general spokesperson, was cautious but more forthcoming.

“I can confirm that this matter was referred to this office, however we don’t discuss investigations,” she said.

The multi-jurisdictional case would go to the AG’s Special Investigations unit.

The El Paso clerk’s office responded after the publication of this article, confirming that they forwarded the former staffer’s name. The secretary of state’s office did not respond to calls.

The same Special Investigations unit at the attorney general’s office is investigating Independence Institute head Jon Caldara. A lead voice in the recall effort, Caldara made a show of registering to vote in the District 11 contest even though he is a longtime permanent resident of Boulder County. His objective was to point out ways he believes the state’s new voter law has made elections vulnerable to fraud. He posted a website encouraging Coloradans to take his lead and become a “gypsy voter” in the recall.

Vander Veen is a longtime Colorado politics personality. In a 2012 Colorado Springs Business Journal profile, she said was “born into” the world of politics and election campaigns.

“The first words I was able to read were the words ‘Reagan and Bush’ on a bumper sticker,” she told the Journal. “My dad will tell you to this day that his proudest moment might be me standing in the back seat of the car and saying, “Look dad, Reagan and Bush!” After that I took to politics like a duck to water. I’ve worked on several successful campaigns and I love the challenge and energy that each one brings.”

She said she loved working in election administration.

“I like getting to work in the Clerk’s Office because every day is a challenge and there are always opportunities to improve and fix county government to get it out of the way of our residents.”

* Edit note: The original version of this story reported that El Paso Clerk Williams forwarded Vander Veen’s name to the County D.A. Dan May. It’s unclear, however, whether that is true. The Independent is seeking information on who first referred the Vander Veen case to May for investigation.

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Tessa Cheek and John Tomasic

She's a reporter/photographer and he's a reporter/managing editor. They're good collaborators.
tips@coloradoindependent.com | 720-432-2128 | @COindependent

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