Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver
(Douglas County, Colo.) Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas said Wednesday that her suspension from her role as chairwoman for the second time in a year — facing allegations that she would "bully, harass and intimidate" political rivals — is “political theater.”
On Tuesday, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners suspended Thomas over allegations that she shared private information about a first responder during a public political event "for her own political advantage." The first responder later resigned.
Thomas, a candidate for Sheriff, has denied any wrongdoing and said that the suspension was a "politically motivated stunt" devised because she was trying to save taxpayers from a controversial water project "boondoggle,'' as she dubbed the Renewable Water Resources project.
If implemented, the project would allow RWR to send up to 34,000 acre-feet of water from a San Luis Valley aquifer to Douglas County. Thomas said she opposes the project and is in favor of obtaining water from Parker, and said she doesn’t know of anyone supporting the project and wanted records of those who are supporters.
“This is about the RWR proposal to put taxpayers in Douglas County on the hook for years,” she told NewsBreak Wednesday. “It’s also designed to smear my good name and harm me in this sheriff’s race.”
The board, which has called for an investigation, also claimed Thomas attempted to dox farmers who had expressed concern there would be personal and financial retribution for speaking out about water issues.
"Regrettably this is only the most recent example of Lora Thomas’ conduct whereby she has attempted to bully, harass, and intimidate those with whom she disagrees," according to the statement posted on the county website.
“Doxing” refers to maliciously publishing private or identifying information of an individual.
Thomas denied ever doxing anyone.
Repeated commissioner clashes
Thomas refuted that she sought to harm the first responder referenced in the commissioner’s statement, and also said she was unsure of the occupation of the individual named in a letter sent to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners in 2019, which was posted to her campaign website.
She said the letter illustrates the Sheriff’s Office’s culture and was not meant to dox anyone but show why change is needed. She also said she did not believe releasing the name of an individual to be doxing them.
“Because Abe has endorsed a different candidate for sheriff, as has Bill Owens, who is also involved in this water deal — RWR,” Thomas said.
She alleged former Governor Bill Owens offered to endorse Thomas if she agreed to support RWR, but later endorsed Darren Weekly, another Douglas County sheriff candidate when Thomas refused. Weekly is also endorsed by Commissioner Laydon.
“This was all political theater because Abe is trying to help his candidate win this race,” Thomas said.
Thomas was first suspended from the role of Board Chair in April 2021 after her two colleagues alleged Thomas of spreading “misinformation and untruths,” also for political gain. They also called her rhetoric “extremely divisive” and said it created distrust among constituents.