DENVER — A report out of Washington concerning an altercation between Colorado Gubernatorial Candidate Jared Polis and a former employee has left many questions, including if he changed his name shortly after to avoid the matter coming up during his run for the Colorado State Board of Education.
According to a story in the Washington Free Beacon by Complete Colorado founder Todd Shepherd, Polis shoved an employee in 1999, causing her injury.
Polis is serving his fifth term in the US House of Representatives.
Colorado GOP Chairman Jeff Hays responded immediately to the story.
“Polis’ documented assault on his female employee is grossly unacceptable and reveals his true character,” Hays said. “Violence against women is reprehensible.”
Neither Polis or his opponent Walker Stapleton responded immediately to requests for comment.
Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville said the first thing he questioned when he heard the news was Polis’ soon-after name change.
At the time of the incident, his name was Jared Polis Shutz. According to the story, about one year after, Polis legally changed his name to Jared Shutz Polis, citing his desire to honor his mother’s maiden name.
However, the timing also coincides with his first election to public office — the State Board of Education — just months later.
In that election, he narrowly beat out incumbent Ben Alexander by just 90 votes with more than 1.5 million cast.
“I think he owes the voters an explanation as to why he hid this from them for decades,” Neville said.
According to the story, the incident took place at Polis’ then Boulder-based offices of JPS International LLC. Polis told police at the time that an employee Patricia Hughes had resigned a few days earlier but called him on the day in question and threatened to “go after” him if her departure did not go smoothly.
In the report, police observed two bruise marks on Hughes’ leg and a welt on her thigh. Hughes also accused Polis of trying to stop her from calling 911. A temporary restraining order was issued against Polis but was vacated three weeks later.
Hughes died in 2014.
Reaction to the report varied.
People took to social media soon after the story was published, some comparing the accusations to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“Democrats open up a Pandora box with this pathetic #metoo movement,” one poster on the Republican Governor’s Association Facebook page said.
“Where’s the FBI?” another woman said.
Polis also had his supporters defending the charges.
“The article failed to mention that Pat Hughes stole $21,000 from Jared … She was convicted and was placed in jail … He did not touch her. He merely blocked the door so the police could come and see her with his documents. This paper should be sued,” one poster wrote.
“He was trying to stop her from stealing company property when she was quitting,” another Facebook poster said. “Blocking somebody from stealing your property is the exact sort of self-help that second amendment fans should be saluting. Have you all no shame?”
Neville said voters need to consider Polis’ character.
“I hope women take a look at this,” Neville said. “I don’t think he should be throwing stones in glass houses.”
Neville isn’t sure how easy he would be to work with as Governor, pointing to past videos of Polis in Congress.
“There are times where he is completely unstable,” Neville said.