FORT MORGAN, Colo. — The Colorado Attorney General's Office said it believes there is evidence of voter intimidation at a Fort Morgan trailer park after residents said they received notices warning their rent would most likely double if Democratic candidate Joe Biden becomes president.
The co-owner of the trailer park, Edward Bernard Pagel, was hand-delivered a cease and desist notice from the Colorado AG's Office.
"This letter serves as NOTICE that the Colorado Department of Law has cause to believe that Edward Bernard (“Bernie”) Pagel has engaged in, or is currently engaging in, unlawful voter intimidation," the notice reads.
Last week, 9NEWS received several emails concerned about a notice to residents at Pagel's Trailer Park.
> The video above aired Oct. 21 and outlines the letter and residents' reactions to it.
According to several pictures of the letter sent to 9NEWS, it read:
“TO ALL TENANTS:
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, groceries, 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!
IF the current President is re-elected, WE WILL NOT RAISE THE RENT FOR AT LEAST 2 YEARS!
Voting is your 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.
If Trump wins, we all win. If Biden wins, we all lose.
VOTE on November 3, 2020.”
The cease and desist notice states that the notice to resident constitutes unlawful voter intimidation.
"Economic coercion can constitute voter intimidation that is not protected by the First Amendment," the cease and desist notice states.
There is no reference to potential penalty for not abiding by the cease and desist, but there is a warning.
"Colorado law authorizes the Attorney General to take legal action to enjoin violations of the Election Code and take other actions, potentially including criminal prosecution, to protect the integrity of elections and to prevent voter intimidation," the cease and desist notice states.
The Colorado AG's Office also warns about acts of retaliation, which can result in additional violations under a different part of Colorado law.
"The Colorado Mobile Home Park Act prohibits a landlord from taking any retaliatory action(s) —which may include evictions; threats to evict; rent or fee increases; threats to increase rent or fees; cutting off water, power, or other services, acts of harassment; or any other retaliatory threat, act of harm, or injury — against a homeowner/tenant for expressing their intent to file or for filing a complaint related to the mobile home park," the cease and desist notice states.
The Colorado AG's Office requires Pagel to sign a document by Friday, acknowledging the cease and desist and agree to what it requires, including:
- Cease all communications implying consequences resulting from any election or a tenant's votes for or against a candidate
- Take no action related to rents, fees or other charges associated with the results of the election or tenant's vote
- Take no retaliatory action in fees or services
“I mean, we can’t control how this whole election goes,” Cindy Marquez, a tenant of the trailer park, told 9NEWS last week. “We can’t control what everyone else does, you know? We can’t control the results.”
Marquez said her family has lived in the trailer park for 20 years, and they have never seen anything like this from landlords before.
“Our family lives paycheck to paycheck and right now we barely make things out with what we get,” she said last week.
> 9NEWS' Liz Kotalik contributed to this story.
SUGGESTED VIDEO: Next with Kyle Clark