State senator surfs Facebook during hearings

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Brad Jones Contributor
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Colorado state Sen. Evie Hudak has been caught surfing the web and checking Facebook during legislative hearings, but she says she was still “very aware” of the proceedings.

The video was shot by the Denver CBS affiliate during hearings in late September on the state’s parole system, which has been under the microscope after a parolee shot and killed state prison director Tom Clements in May.

It was later determined Evan Ebel, a white supremacist gang member who was the chief suspect, was released early due to a clerical error. Ebel died in a shootout with Texas authorities shortly after he was named in the case.

The state’s parole system has been the target of reform since that error and many others were discovered in a sweeping audit. Lawmakers on the joint judiciary committee, which meets periodically over the summer, received testimony on the subject Sept. 26 and 27.

Over-the-shoulder video shot by KCNC-TV clearly shows Hudak browsing her Facebook newsfeed and posting updates to Twitter. While she did post some updates related to the hearing, the bulk of her surfing was decidedly apolitical.

State Rep. Daniel Kagan, a fellow Democrat who chaired the hearings, told reporter Brian Maass “These are matters of life or death to be taken extremely seriously.”

Hudak’s conduct during legislative hearings has been the subject of controversy before; during the legislature’s regular session this spring, she was accused of disrespecting a rape victim who was testifying against a bill that would ban concealed weapons on state college campuses.

The woman stated she believed a gun would have helped her fend off her attacker, a claim Hudak contradicted. “I just want to say that actually, statistics are not on your side even if you had had a gun,” Hudak said.

While a host of new firearms restrictions were eventually enacted, the college concealed carry bill was withdrawn for lack of support.

Hudak initially defended her actions when contacted by CBS’s Maass, suggesting her Facebook and Twitter activity, though unrelated, actually helps her focus on testimony.

“There are times when it actually helps me pay attention and not drift off to just kind of multi-task,” she said. “So you know when I’m listening at all times if I’m hearing the same thing over and over I sometimes do other things but come back to it. I’m aware of all the information that was shared.”

She later conceded some of her browsing could be considered “extraneous.”

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Brad Jones