DENVER — Andy Rougeot is running for mayor with the slogan “Fight for Denver’s Future.” His current battle is with telling the truth.
Rougeot made seven false statements in a recent campaign interview, ranging from obvious falsehoods about other candidates in the race to instances where he appeared genuinely confused about city issues and policies.
Rougeot rattled off the string of falsehoods during an appearance Wednesday on George Brauchler’s talk radio show on 710 KNUS.
A centerpiece of Rougeot’s campaign is his small business experience. He owns a company that provides maintenance and security gates for self-storage facilities.
Rougeot falsely claimed he’s the “only candidate with actual business experience.”
Fellow candidate Kwame Spearman is the CEO of Tattered Cover bookstores. Kelly Brough ran the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. Thomas Wolf is an investment banker. Aurelio Martinez has run a restaurant and a business center. Chris Hansen worked in the clean energy sector. Robert Treta is a developer.
"I've owned and operated a business in Denver for 27 years building residential homes and commercial projects," Treta said. “I’ve been doing that nonstop since 1996. I don’t know how he’d talk about being the only candidate with business experience.”
Rougeot falsely said “all the other candidates... are all sort of career politicians.”
The field of 17 candidates for Denver Mayor includes approximately 10 candidates who could fairly be described as new or relatively new to politics.
Rougeot inaccurately claimed that he is the only candidate who will enforce the camping ban.
Several other candidates have prominently said they will enforce the camping ban, including Chris Hansen and Trini Rodriguez.
At a recent event, Colorado Public Radio’s Sam Brasch took a photo of multiple candidates raising their hands when asked if they'd enforce the camping ban.
Rougeot falsely claimed that Denverites who have built homes are waiting a year for a Certificate of Occupancy to move into the property.
Denver Community Planning and Development tracks delays in permitting through an online dashboard. The city has wrestled with long delays in initial permitting, stretching longer than 200 days, but Rougeot’s campaign was unable to provide any evidence of his claim that the city is delaying occupancy of “already finished” homes by 12 months.
Community Planning and Development said the final city sign-off to receive a certificate of occupancy generally takes one to two business days.
“If someone is claiming that processing a CO is taking a year, then there must be a larger issue at play,” said Community Planning and Development spokeswoman Laura Swartz. “That is a nearly impossible scenario, unless something at the project was not built according to the approved plans and needs to be fixed.”
Rougeot falsely blamed Denver's pedestrian deaths on jaywalking by people experiencing homelessness.
"We're having a spike of pedestrian deaths mostly caused by homeless individuals cutting across busy streets," he said on KNUS.
The Medical Examiner's statistics show that most pedestrians killed in 2022 weren't homeless. The same is true for 2021 and 2020, according to the office’s statistics.
Rougeot’s campaign pointed 9NEWS to city statistics on “blunt force trauma” deaths, which the Medical Examiner’s office says included other causes of death, including suicides, falls, and people hit by trains.
Rougeot inexplicably claimed that he is the only mayoral candidate who isn’t receiving matching taxpayer funding through the city’s new Fair Elections Fund.
"I'm proud I'm the only candidate who is not taking that funding," Rougeot said.
There are four mayoral candidates who are not receiving Fair Elections Fund matches.
Rougeot’s most striking claim in the KNUS interview, also offered without evidence, was that some mayoral candidates paying themselves salaries out of campaign funds for “fake runs for Mayor.”
A Denver Elections spokeswoman said such an action would violate campaign finance laws.
Rougeot’s campaign declined to tell 9NEWS which candidates he believes are paying themselves salaries.
9NEWS reviewed the expenditure reports of all 17 candidates and found no evidence to support Rougeot’s claim.
Pressed for specifics, Rougeot’s campaign then said the salaries are being hidden through payroll companies.
9NEWS contacted the two mayoral campaigns that list expenditures to payroll companies. Both volunteered to allow 9NEWS to review their payroll forms. The forms provided offered no evidence to support Rougeot’s claim of illegal salaries being paid to mayoral candidates.
A Denver Elections spokeswoman said the office would investigate the issue if Rougeot files a formal complaint.
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