Weekend Wakeup with Chuck & Julie, Laura Woods, September 17, 2016

Station: KNUS, 710 AM

Show:     Weekend Wakeup

Guests:  Woods, Laura

Link:     http://knus-weekend-wakeup.podbean.com/

Date:      September 17, 2016



HOST CHUCK BONNIWELL:  But we’ve got with us State Senator Laura Woods who is fighting an incredible campaign – a rematch – against Rachel Zenzinger.  And I’m going to have to “Rick Roll” you a little bit, Laura.



WOODS:  Good morning.


BONNIWELL:  We were supposed to talk about – and we will talk about, briefly – your incredible fight on the probate – uh, reform in the probate courts, which has become a good old boys network between the judges and the lawyers and the usual sleeze that – what happens when no one is looking.  When no one is looking at judges and lawyers, they’re stealing everything that’s not tied down.  But I want to talk a bit about your campaign –

HAYDEN:  Oh, sure.

BONNIWELL:  –because  this is the most important thing.  It is the biggest campaign out there.  The State Senate will probably depend upon your seat.  You’re fighting an incredible five up in Jefferson County, and in Adams [County] against Rachel Zenzinger, who reminds me of my third grade school teacher who I did not like.  Um, in fact, I did find out that she was a schoolteacher, and probably was my, you know, third grade school teacher.  But all I ever see are ads against you.  They never identify your opponent, Ms. Zenzinger.  All they talk about is how you screwed the veterans, and little kitties, —.

HAYDEN: And children and dogs and puppies.

BONNIWELL:  And children and dogs and puppies.  I mean, the Democrats and the “Blueprint Colorado” folks must be pouring every penny they have in against you.

WOODS:  It certainly feels like that on my end.  [laughs]

HAYDEN:  [laughs]

BONNIWELL:  Are you getting much support from our almost nonexistent State Republican Party ?

WOODS:  Oh, I did.  I got the full amount they could donate to my campaign in a cash donation put into my account so I could manage my mail from this end, which was a great help.  So, it was — I think they could do $22,500 total, and we had to take off what the county parties had given me.  But, they maxed out the rest of it, so — .

BONNIWELL:  Great! Great.

WOODS:  Yeah, that was awesome!

HAYDEN:  Well, and I have to say, Laura, you know, I’ve been – and we’ll get to the probate thing, here, in a second. Where I’m working on — sort of long-term — on a story in Denver just—a reference, at Fox31 News — about the complete crookedness –.  I mean, when we tell you about this everybody is going to be outraged.  But in trying to get ahold of you, you’re like, “If you could call me at 7 a.m., I might be able to spare 5 minutes.” [laughs] And then I’m like – and then I talk to your supporters.  They’re like, “I don’t have time, Julie, in the morning because we’re out there working for Laura.  But let me just sort of ask you an open-ended question.  These are people that – I mean,  that, um—you’ve got people working hard for you out there.  Why is it?  I mean, what is it that you’re trying to do?  Why is it – why are they so — the Democrats who opposed you – and why – and I know this is a softball here, but why is it so important that you get back there to the state legislature?

WOODS:  It’s important for several reasons.  The Democrats desperately want to control everything about our lives.  And so, they need control of the Senate in order to control your life and mine and every business in this state.  And I think the business community has come out in force and said it’s important to keep the Senate in Republican hands. I have been endorsed by multiple different business organizations and industries because they want the Senate in Republican hands.  And it’s important to the citizens of this state.  The more government grows, the less our liberties grow, the more they shrink, actually.  And so, for the citizens, if we want to have any liberty – any say — in how we run our families, and any say in how we run privately-held small businesses, we need to keep the Senate in Republican hands.

HAYDEN:  Well, and let me then, if I may, then go to this probate issue.   Because I think, if nothing else, this is why people need to vote for you, because you fought for this last year, you were smacked down by the judges.  Go figure! You know, the judges are supposed to be impartial –.

BONNIWELL:  Well, let’s just–.

HAYDEN:  Well, let me just –.

BONNIWELL:  Let me just finish this part

HAYDEN:  Oh, okay.

BONNIWELL:  I mean, you may or may not be able to vote for Laura because you’re not in – is it Senate District 35?

WOODS:  No, no! It’s [SD] 19!

BONNEIWELL:  Nineteen.  I’m sorry.

WOODS: It is all northern Jefferson County.  It extends from Sheridan on the east side almost to Indiana [Street] on the west.


WOODS:  And then 120th [Avenue] down to about 52nd Avenue.

BONNIWELL:  All right.  And so, but you can give you money! I mean, if you can’t vote, you could give money.  How do folks give you some money?

WOODS:  Through SenatorLauraWoods.com.  I have a Donate site – a secure Donate site – on that website: SenatorLauraWoods.com.  It’s the simplest way to reach me, to help, or to donate.


HAYDEN:  All right.  Well, then, here’s, then, the probate thing.  Because this affects, I think, everybody, or could affect everybody if it hasn’t already, at one point.  So this stems back to like, I think.  In 2011, the state – the state auditor is the one that came up with this.  It turns out—so, it turns out – so, if you have an estate of any size, what it appears that is happening is this cottage industry has grown up in Colorado between judges and lawyers, where they finagle a way to appoint lawyers to be in charge of your estate.  I talked to this family.  Their estate started out with what would have been valued at $10 million.  They now have roughly $60,000 left in it, and it has all gone to lawyers.  All of it has gone to lawyers.  The lawyers in this case, they told me, the first thing they did is they got the judge appointed, and this judge has been thrown out because he was so crooked.

BONNIWELL:  What is his name?

HAYDEN:  Judge Timothy Fasing, in Arapahoe County.  What –.

WOODS:  But he resigned. He wasn’t thrown out, but he resigned.

HAYDEN:  Okay. Yeah. I think he would have been [thrown out].  But at any rate, he was appointing a lawyer, and to make a long story short, the family said, the first thing she did – the mother, who was elderly, is happily living in her home –and the people who are appointed by the judge say Oh!, they can’t have that.  So they evict the mother from her home.  They sell the property at pennies on the dollar to —  you have to wonder what’s going on with that real estate deal.  And if the family even begins to complain about it — I was astonished to learn this.  If the family complains, the judge then can appoint another lawyer, who will then bill the estate too.  So, essentially, they’ve wiped out this estate.  And what the state auditor found is that the probate court system in Colorado has zero monitoring.  They had lawyers, apparently, that in one instance the lawyers were billing the estates seven years after the person had died.  I mean, there is zero tracking.  There is zero anything.  So, why don’t you – I’ll let you just kind of talk about it and what it is you’re trying to do up there.

WOODS:  Well, you’ve summarized the problem, I think, well. And I met this group of impacted families about fifteen months ago, and then we started working to correct the problem.  The audit from 2011 resulted in some decisions by the Judiciary to hire some new people to work in the courtrooms.  Denver Probate hired one lady – to add to her courtroom.  And just look at the reports the lawyers are turning in — the court-appointed fiduciaries, whether they’re a trustee, or a guardian or a conservator.  Look at those reports and see if there’s anything that looks amiss.  So, this gal was hired in Denver and she started doing her job there, was going to the judge — to the magistrate judge.  The magistrate judge was seeing the problems.  They went to the Chief Judge, which was Judge Jean Stewart, and they were reporting to her the problems in those files.  And Judge Stewart fired the gal.

HAYDEN:  Yeah! So, there we go!  That will solve the prob– who then filed and won a settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

WOODS:  That’s right.  That’s right.

BONNIWELL:  And I went to law school with Tim Fasing.  And let me read to you what – this is the Commission on Traditional Formance.  And this is why people kind of go, “Well, we don’t want to elect judges! Oh, no!  We’ve got this wonderful process where we have these very tough reviews followed by, you know, you get to put up ‘Retain’ or ‘Don’t Retain’.” And everybody is retained, all the time.  But the Commission is impressed with Judge Fasing’s performance on the bench.  He’s fair and unbiased.  He’s wonderful!  He’s the greatest thing ever.  And this is a guy who had to resign before they were – you know!

HAYDEN:  Before the FBI!

BONNIWELL:  Before the FBI had him arrested or something!  You know what I mean?  It is just amazing!  Our process of judicial retention is just – the judges are so proud they don’t have to run for election.

HAYDEN:  Well, and then Laura, what the  — one of the astonishing things is there is  — the bottom line is – is that they have no—they appoint lawyers to take over people’s estate, some of the most vulnerable people we have.

WOODS:  Yes.

HAYDEN:  And then there is — the lawyers then can just bill the estate and there is zero –.  Half the time, — I think it was almost half the time – they don’t even have to submit reports for what they’re billing, but when they do submit no one looks at it!  And even if they do look at it, no one does anything because there is – I think it is clearly implied – these judges are in cahoots with some of the lawyers they appoint.  And so, what happened when you said, “This doesn’t seem right! Let’s try to fix this”?

WOODS:  Well, we had a stakeholder meeting last summer, first of all.  And we invited the families to come in.  We had the Bar Association lobby there to just voice the complaints.  We wanted to get the story out of what’s going on and then we started working on legislation to fix that.  And one of my ideas last year, which we didn’t actually get into the form of a bill because of the opposition we faced, was to have sort of an outside review team — just a committee of citizens, common sense people.  Like a grand jury, who can look at something and think, “You know?  This does not pass the smell test.”  So, if an asset was sold below market value, if an attorney or the court-appointeds reduced the value of an estate by 10% — as soon as that happened, it would kick out to this outside group.  And then the outside group would say, “Hmm.  You know, we think this stinks!  Let’s send this back to the judge and make him look at it again.”  Well, that Bill didn’t get off the ground because it had so much opposition from the Bar Association.  I did run a bill that would have simply protected those under guardianship.

You know, when someone becomes your guardian they assume all of your rights.  You no longer have the right to say, “I want to live in my home” or “I need to live in that nursing home,” the guardian says, “I will tell you where you’re going to live, and you’re going to like it!”  And so, they were limiting phone calls, visitors, and mail.

HAYDEN:  Right.

WOODS:  And all we did with the Peter Faulk Bill was to try to establish the right of the ward, the one under guardianship.  And the Bar Association fought that bill, as well, got it killed the House Judiciary Committee after it had sailed through the Senate.

BONNIWELL:  Why?  Why was the Bar Association opposed to it?

HAYDEN:  Because they’re making money in it!

BONNIWELL:  No. But the Bar Association has another – I mean, the Bar Association – I was a long-time member of the Bar Association.  It went from stuffed shirt conservative to stuffed shirt liberal.  And it is very left.  I mean, you know, it is.  It spends all of its time trying to track down homophobic statements.  I mean, that’s its main mission in life.  But – but—

WOODS:  Well, I used to say this was a $38 billion industry across the country.


WOODS: And be clear:  this is not just a Colorado problem.

HAYDEN:  Right.

WOODS:  It’s nationwide.  But—

BONNIWELL:  What was their theory?  They would have a theory of what the opposition –.

WOODS:  “We’re running our own probate reform. We don’t need this bill.  This really isn’t happening in that many cases in Colorado, and this is — Boy!   This is going to cost!” You know, the judicial department for the $600,000 fiscal note on that little Bill, saying, on one hand, “There’s nothing going on here!  Nothing to see!  We don’t have a problem!  On the other hand, if you run this bill we’re going to have to hire new judges to hear all the hearings you’re creating.”

BONNIWELL:  [facetiously]  Oh, no!

HAYDEN:  Well, and you know, it’s insane when you look at – because, here’s the thing:  we’re not talking about—necessarily– elderly people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia so bad they don’t know what’s going on.  In some cases these are people, like you said, who are living in their own homes.  And if there’s an estate and it gets – for whatever reason—it ends up in the courts, what’s happening is the judges are appointing lawyers who are then removing all rights.   This family was telling me about another case where a woman – it’s a daughter and a dad– for whatever reason, the courts got involved with it.  They appoint a conservator and a guardian, so they’ve got two lawyers billing at like $350 an hour.  So, [if] you even call them to see what’s going on, they bill you.  Then they bill for writing up the report. I mean, you get billed up the whazoo.  And they only are targeting the rich people, by the way.  Anyway, so this woman was getting married.  The guardian said that the daughter was having undue influence on the dad, so they prohibited the daughter from having any contact — phone calls, emails, visits, anything from the dad.  The daughter is getting married!  She wants her dad to come to her wedding.  The dad wants to go to the wedding.  The guardian first says no.  Then the guardian says, “Okay. You can go to the wedding but it’s going to cost you $6000 extra for me and my friend to come with, to take your dad to California to go to the wedding.”  And they bill the estate!  And then what do you think happens when the estate runs out?  Is the Guardian still taking care of the dad?


HAYDEN:  I don’t think so!

WOODS:  No, as soon as they are Medicaid eligible, they turn the ward back to the family and say, “Well, now you’ve learned enough about how to care for your parent so we’ll let you take over.”

BONNIWELL:  [laughs]

HAYDEN:  And it’s a sham. Families who have come into this situation with wills and trusts, and all the court-appointed attorney has to do is stand up in the courtroom and say, “Well, you know, that one that Mom wanted to be her trustee has done something illegal.”  And Judge Fasing simply said, “Fine, then he’s out and you’re in, Ms. Attorney.”  And –.

HAYDEN:  Same attorney.

WOODS:  Same attorney.

HAYDEN:  Same attorney and her partner.

WOODS:  Yeah, so –.

HAYDEN:  Hey, listen!  We have to take a break.  Can you hang on, Laura?

WOODS:  Sure.

HAYDEN:  Okay.  You’re listening to Weekend Wakeup with Chuck and Julie.  We’re talking to Senator Laura Woods, running for re-election, and we’ll be doing more on this whole probate situation, because this is an outrage that really touches essentially everybody who lives here.  Back after this.


BONNIWELL:  All right, we’re back! We’re here with Laura Woods.  She is state Senator up in Jefferson County, District number 19.  Her retention is critical if Republicans are going to retain the Senate, which means so the Democrats can’t control your life.  And she’s out there every day!

HAYDEN:  Yeah!

BONNIWELL:  It’s great!  She’s out there working hard, and –.  It’s got to be encouraging that Donald Trump is – appears to be ahead in Colorado, which means — you know, most people don’t split their ticket a lot these days.  And so, it can’t hurt to have the Republican candidate for President have a lead, at least in some surveys.

WOODS:  That’s true.  But I have met a lot of people who are going to vote a split ticket this year.  It’s really interesting as I knock on doors, the comments and conversations that I have about the presidential election.   And Trump has a lot of support in Senate District 19, which is interesting.  And I’ve met a lot of Democrats who have said they’re going to vote for not only him, but for me as well.  So, there’s even a Facebook page, “Democrats for Sen. Laura Woods”.

HAYDEN & BONNIWELL:  There you go!

BONNIWELL:  All right!

HAYDEN:  Well, you know,

WOODS:  [inaudible]  Wow!

HAYDEN:  And this probate issue, I think, is just one example why, because I’ve, you know, covered the legislature a lot.  And I think a few years ago, the whole gun thing, and the arrogance and the disdain that the Democratic legislators had for the citizens.  I mean, to me, it’s one thing to say, “Hey look, I disagree with you and I’m going to vote this way.”  But it’s the way that people were treated.

BONNIWELL:  Which relates to this one, because –.

HAYDEN:  Exactly!  And –.

BONNIWELL:  Because Rachel was the campaign manager for Evie Hudak.  And when Evie Hudak backed out, after it looked like she was going to be recalled, she was appointed to the Senate seat.  And then you won the race.  And now this is a rematch.  So, Rachel is a gun grabber.

WOODS:  Yes.

BONNIWELL:  And if you like your 2nd Amendment, you may want to consider contributing to Laura Woods’ campaign, because she certainly is somebody who is protecting you.  And if you think that they were done with their last set of bills, just give them the state Senate and they’ll be back with some more “common sense” gun control.

HAYDEN:  Yeah!  Well, and again – and Laura, why I so appreciate you, as somebody who just covers this, is, you know, you at least listen!  I mean, I think it’s very hard these days to get a – and there’s – again, with this probate issue, it’s just a perfect example. These are just regular people —

WOODS:  That’s right!

HAYDEN:  –who get themselves caught up in this thing, are appalled at what’s going on, say, “What can we do to change?”  And then you meet with them, and you listen to them, and you’re like, “Oh, okay!”

BONNIWELL:  And then you’re opposed by the Bar Association, which is really –.

HAYDEN:  Powerful.

BONNIWELL:  It’s powerful in its own sad way that people think they really care.  They care about their own power and their own everything else.

HAYDEN:  But, I mean, you could have gone – you could have said to these people, “Hey, look.  This is going to have a fiscal note.  They’re going to fight it.  I’m only going to put my time and energy into things that are winners and are going to get me, you know, more political support.”  Because, I mean, the people I’m talking to, they’re from all over Colorado — who are supporting you on this issue.  They’re not from your district.  But you didn’t do that.  You said, “You know, I don’t care what district you’re in.  I don’t care what political party you’re in.  I don’t care that I’m going to get a lot of opposition to this.  This is a big issue, too, and we need to tackle it.”  And you did!  And I think there are so many legislators out there who would have not even returned the phone calls.

WOODS:  Well, it’s a heavy lift.  There is no denying that.  But I found out when I got to the Senate, something I knew true about me and other things I’ve done in my life:  My heart really beats for those vulnerable citizens.  Um, it’s the unborn.  It’s the elderly.  It’s the victims, the exploited.  That’s who–when I see injustice happening to them, I almost can’t not react.

HAYDEN:  Well, and again, you were telling me, you don’t even just react.  You go over all it needs to take.  You said, “No, I talked to the FBI.  I talked to –.”  You know, I mean, I want you on my side in a fight! I tell you that!

WOODS:  I was looking at this problem from every angle I could.  I wanted media coverage.  I wanted legislation to fix it. I wanted the the FBI to investigate whether, you know, laws had been broken, especially in regards to the judges. And I wanted, you know, the protest and activism that they were doing out of that courthouse that I think prompted Judge Fasing to resign.  So we were coming at it from every angle, because I see it as a huge problem.  And if your family isn’t impacted today, it very well could be by next week.

BONNIWELL:  And — you know, it’s amazing—I do suggest that people, if you want to know how the system really works, read the recommendation on Judge Fasing for the last election and compare it to why he had to resign.

HAYDEN:  [laughs]

BONNIWELL:  And then to see what kind of job the judicial performance –.  Because I’ve never seen a more glowing report.  And he was forced to resign!

HAYDEN:  Laura, one more time, then, because I know you have to go, how can people get ahold of you?  How can people contribute to you?  How can people find out about you?

WOODS:  They can reach me, read about me, help, and donate all through my website, which is SenatorLauraWoods.com.  And I would love to have anybody come out and help us knock on doors.  Or, if somebody else has a story, an issue — especially related to probate– we need to hear from them so we can gather all of the information.

HAYDEN:  All right then.

BONNIWELL:  Well, Laura, we’re going to have to have you back before the election.  The ballots will be coming out about October 15, but we’d love to have you back one more time before the election because your fight up in Jefferson County is really one for the whole state.

WOODS:  Well, I’m happy to be here, as long as it’s early, as Julie said, because I can’t knock on doors at this hour.

HAYDEN & BONNIWELL:  [laughter]

HAYDEN:  Although you would if you could, I bet you!  All right, thank you for your time!  Good luck out there today!  Our thanks to Senator Laura Woods.  You know, again, I was just impressed.  There are a lot of legislators who, you know, they meet with high-powered lobbyists or people who can contribute.  You know, these are people who she’s fighting for who –they’re not in her district.  They can’t vote for her.  And she’s fighting for them because this is a terrible issue.  The state itself admits – and—it’s not even “admits”.    The state said this is terrible. It needs to be fixed.  And what did the judiciary do?  Nothing.  Nothing.

BONNIWELL:  And she had to go–.

HAYDEN:  They haven’t done anything since 2005.

BONNIWELL:  She had to go to the FBI and the FBI is not usually going to get involved.

HAYDEN:  They did, though.

BONNIWELL:  Well, I don’t know. Did anyone get arrested?   Did they – They didn’t do anything.

HAYDEN:  Well.

BONNIWELL:  But she did not go to the Attorney General of Colorado — who also would do nothing.  And it’s sad.

HAYDEN:  Right.  It’s said.  So she’s out there. so–.