A Democratic state representative denied Friday that he had ever abused his ex-wife, and he blasted a Republican mailer that re-raised allegations in campaign literature sent this week to voters in his district.
Littleton police in 2015 investigated the allegations against Rep. David Ortiz and did not find enough evidence to arrest or charge him. The mailer containing the claims, paid for by the Restore Colorado Leadership Fund, shows images of Ortiz alongside photos of bruises on what appear to be a woman’s arm. It quotes from the 2015 police report detailing the abuse allegations against Ortiz and includes a text message Ortiz sent to his ex-wife.
A search of a Colorado Bureau of Investigations database shows Ortiz, an incumbent representative locked in a tight re-election race, has never been arrested or charged in the state. Police here are required to arrest someone if there’s probable cause to believe they committed domestic violence.
In a statement posted to Facebook late Friday afternoon, Ortiz denied the allegations and called the mailer “a disgusting, dishonest attack ad from a dark money GOP smear group … trying to impugn my character by dragging up an allegation that I acted abusively toward my ex-wife after we broke up.”
Ortiz declined to comment beyond his statement Friday night.
He seemed to acknowledge the text message referenced in the mailer was accurate. He wrote that at the time of the alleged incident, he was “undergoing intensive rehabilitation” resulting from his injuries while serving in the Army and that he was “not proud of the things I wrote in text messages during that time.”
Ortiz’s seat is considered a particular target of Republicans in November as the GOP looks to trim away the Democratic majority in the chamber. Current Speaker and Denver Democrat Alec Garnett declined to comment Friday, as did Democratic Rep. Chris Kennedy. Other lawmakers did not return messages seeking comment.
Ortiz’s ex-wife, whom the Denver Post is not naming because of the nature of the allegations, did not return a message late Friday afternoon.
The mailer comes more than seven years after the investigation concluded in late February 2015. The police report, obtained by the Denver Post this week, shows police conducted a two-day investigation and spoke with Ortiz, his ex-wife and a friend who was staying with Ortiz at the time.
On Feb. 27, 2015, a Littleton Police officer called Ortiz’s ex-wife, who said she wanted to report that she had been beaten. She and Ortiz had divorced several years before, and she had come and stayed with him in Littleton at his invitation.
She told police that Ortiz had gotten mad at her after she had too much to drink near the end of her visit and that he had then allegedly grabbed her, “hit her in the hip, and the leg,” according to the report.
She said that the next day, Ortiz allegedly grabbed, restrained and hit her again. He then apologized, according to the report, before allegedly driving her “to the middle of the ghetto” and leaving her there. She said she called a friend, who picked her up.
The friend did not respond to messages left by the Denver Post late Friday.
Ortiz spoke with Littleton Police a day after his ex-wife. He said the visit had been fine until the last night, when they’d gone to a bar on West Colfax and had a disagreement. Ortiz told police he “wanted nothing to do” with her behavior and left. He said he texted her that she could come to get her stuff and that he wanted nothing else to do with her, according to the report.
Police officers arrived with the woman’s friend the next day to collect her things, Ortiz told police. According to the report, Ortiz said those officers did not speak with him then.
Ortiz’s ex-wife told police that Ortiz had previously called her various names and been physically abusive.
She sent copies of several text messages and images of bruises to police; the photographs were allegedly taken on her flight home from Colorado. The messages, allegedly sent by Ortiz, call the woman a “psycho” and tell her to leave.
The investigating officer reviewed five images of bruised arms and legs of an unidentified woman, according to the report, and she determined they showed “what appeared to be fairly old bruises.”
Ultimately, police decided to close the case because the investigating officer was “unable to identify to whom the arms and legs belong in the photographs that (Ortiz’s ex-wife) emailed to me, (there were no) independent witnesses, and overall insufficient evidence.” The woman’s friend also did not return a message from the police, according to the report.
In his statement, Ortiz, who is an Army veteran, said both the Army and Littleton Police investigated the allegations and determined they “lacked sufficient, credible information or evidence.”
“To be very clear: I have never, and would never, be violent toward a partner,” Ortiz wrote.
In a comment posted under Ortiz’s Facebook statement, fellow Democratic Rep. Monica Duran defended Ortiz and said the mailer was a “smear campaign” and “vile.” Duran is a domestic abuse survivor.