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Election 2020

Landlord who threatened to change rent based on election outcome engaged in voter intimidation, Colorado AG says

Bernie Pagel, co-owner of a mobile park in Fort Morgan, distributed a notice to tenants saying their rent could double if Democrat Joe Biden wins the presidential election

Denver voters cast ballots on Nov. 8, 2018 (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

By Patty Nieberg, The Associated Press/Report for America

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has issued a cease-and-desist letter to the co-owner of a mobile home park who distributed a notice to tenants saying their rent could double if Democrat Joe Biden wins the presidential election.

The office issued the letter on Friday to Bernie Pagel, co-owner of a mobile park in Fort Morgan, saying the notice constituted voter intimidation by using “economic coercion” against the tenants. It warned that further legal action could be taken if Pagel doesn’t comply, according to the letter, which was released Wednesday.

Pagel didn’t immediately respond to emails requesting comment on Wednesday.

According to the attorney general’s office, the notice from Pagel states: “Please understand if Joe Biden is elected as our next President, everything you do and have to pay for will change completely. Everything will be increased. Like paying a lot more in taxes, utilities, gasoline, new permits, fees and regulations…everything! This also means your rent will be increased to cover these expenses. Most likely, rent would double in price!”

“If the current President is re-elected, we will not raise the rent for at least 2 years!” Pagel said.

“Voting is your choice and we are not telling you how to vote. We are just informing our tenants what We will do according to the election results,” Pagel’s notice adds.

A landlord may be fined up to $10,000 for actions of retaliation against tenants such as threatening evictions, rent increases, cutting off water, power, or other services, and acts of harassment, according to the attorney general’s office.

Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.


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