HD 55 controversy has race heating up

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Mesa County Republicans attacked what they are calling unconstitutional work done by Democratic House District 55 candidate Dan Robinson, calling him out for providing pro bono law services to illegal immigrants.

But Robinson fired back, saying they aren't focusing on the real issues affecting Mesa County voters.

KKCO 11 News exclusively brought you the story Tuesday, as some of those backing Republican Ray Scott's campaign said illegal aliens cost the state of Colorado $1.4 billion each year, and that by doing pro bono work for them, Robinson is violating the constitution.

"When you help people break the constitution of the United States-- who are illegally in this country-- and help them avoid prosecution under the law, I think that's a huge conflict of interest," Kevin McCarney, the second vice chair of the Mesa County Republican Party, said.

Robinson called the whole thing a "desperate attempt to save a failed campaign” and said he's winning this race. He said this is only an attempt by Republicans to distract voters and that the legal work he does is normal.

"All attorneys in town have done pro bono work, that's part of our obligation to members of the bar, that we make legal services available to those who need it," he said.

This comes after a Colorado justice report reveals that Robinson did pro bono work for illegal immigrants as an attorney. The report says he assisted illegal immigrants in seeking advice on what to do if they get pulled over, something Republican Ray Scott said is clearly bad policy for someone running for office.

"The problem with illegal immigrants is they are here illegally; they are breaking federal law, so for anybody to assist them is illegal. That's the bottom line," Scott said.

But Robinson said the Republicans are only focusing on this issue as a way to smear his campaign.

"It keeps people away from focusing on what most people here care about. They care about their kids, they care about public safety, they care about transportation, they care about education, they care about healthcare, so they like to bring up other things to distract people," Robinson said.

McCarney said Robinson is only using that as a way to avoid the subject.

"(He is) trying to use that as a way to get out of what is obviously an issue for him that he doesn't want to talk about, which is he does pro bono work for illegal aliens and helps them break the laws of the United States," McCarney said.

Robinson said the issue all boils down to ethics, even though Republicans said they disagree.

"It's an oath that we take. It's an ethical obligation, and it's something that we sign on for, just as doctors do-- that they have to treat patients who present themselves with care-- lawyers are obligated to represent clients that are presented to them,” Robinson said.

McCarney said that instead it's about the law and not ethics, and that Robinson should simply tell the illegal immigrants "no."

"He's not obligated to take what comes his way. He's made this choice and trying to get around it with some sort of argument that he's morally and ethically bound to do that when he works for a private law firm I think is disingenuous," McCarney said.

Ray Scott said he asked Robinson about the issue during one of the Club 20 debates, and Robinson denied it. When KKCO 11 News asked Robinson, he insisted it's nothing but a distraction.

When asked about Robinson's claim that he is winning the race, Scott said Robinson is clearly worried or he wouldn't have said that, and that Robinson is instead trying to deflect responsibility for a mistake he made.

You will be the one to decide, as Election Day is just a little more than a month away.

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