Diabetes, stroke and other health problems beset former GOP chairman accused of voter fraud, he says in Weld District Court
December 6, 2017
By his own admission on the witness stand Wednesday afternoon, October 2016 was a rough month for former Colorado Republican Party Chairman Steve Curtis.
It was the month during which he is accused of committing voter fraud and forgery, after he filled out his ex-wife's ballot and mailed it in. She had recently moved out of their Firestone home, and, at that time, she lived in Charleston, S.C. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.
Yet, Curtis said in court Wednesday, though he concluded he must have filled out the ballot and submitted it in an envelope with his ex-wife's name on it, he had no memory of the incident for months. That's because, he said, he was in the grips of a severe diabetic episode at the time. He's lived with Type 1 diabetes for almost 30 years, he said, and it is a very debilitating condition. He has difficulty concentrating, he said, and difficulty sleeping. If he gets more than 90 minutes of sleep at one time in a night, he said, it's a "miracle."
"When it's really erratic it's ridiculous how stupid I sound. … I think I just appear like a moron really," he said.
Additionally, a 2012 stroke left him blind in one eye, he said, and his vision in the other eye is not good, a condition exacerbated by the diabetes.
Although the past 30 years have been difficult for Curtis, he still rose to prominence as the Colorado GOP chairman from 1997-99. His career in politics has its origins in a 1989 incident, in which Denver gang members shot him in the head twice and murdered two of his friends. Republican party members later asked him if he would join them in advocating for harsher judicial punishments. The opportunity led to his political career, which culminated in his chairmanship of the party.
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He didn't shy away from hard work in other parts of his career either. By October 2016, he was working between 80 and 95 hours a week at three different jobs, including a career as a conservative talk-show host for the Aurora-based radio station KLZ-AM 560, a job he had to commute to multiple times a week. During October and the months that followed, he said, his blood sugar was consistently high.
That's why, he said, he doesn't remember filling out his own ballot on Oct. 16, filling out his ex-wife's ballot on Oct. 22, or putting the ballots in the mail Oct. 24. When confronted with the evidence in the months leading up to trial, though, he conceded all three of those events took place.
"It's a conclusion I drew, it's not an admission," he said.
Months after the event, though, he began to reconstruct the memory, he said, although he distrusted it at first.
"How much of October do you think you've blacked out?" Weld County Deputy District Attorney Tate Costin asked Curtis in court.
"It was a rough month … I don't know," he said.
Closing arguments are expected Thursday in the trial of Steve Curtis.