EducationElection 2018News

Faced with residency questions, Board of Education candidate says she ‘couch surfed’

Author: Marianne Goodland - May 17, 2018 - Updated: May 31, 2018

State Board of Education member Debora Scheffel at a campaign event in 2016. (Photo by Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat)

In the wake of questions about where Colorado State Board of Education candidate Debora Scheffel currently lives, the candidate and a Republican Party official tell of many moves over the last few years and point to recently updated voter registration records.

Scheffel was appointed in January to fill a vacancy on the state board for the seat representing the 4th Congressional District. She filed to run for a full term on the panel in March.

So where did she live when she filed to run for that 4th District seat on March 22?

Hard to say, because — according to a statement provided Thursday to Colorado Politics by Daniel Cole, a spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party — Scheffel was “couch-surfing” between her parents’ home in the 6th Congressional District and her brother’s home in the 4th Congressional District.

According to the statement, Scheffel has apparently bounced around between that home, her brother’s home and her parents’ home, which is in a different congressional district, for the better part of the last three years.

Scheffel’s history of listing other people’s addresses as her own in the three election contests she’s vied for in the past three years has raised questions.

Those questions have dogged Scheffel before, most recently this week after Denver TV station KCNC-CBS4 reported she was renting out the home that until recently served as her voter registration address.

The gold standard for determining where someone lives for purposes of candidacy is the voter registration record, according to the Secretary of State’s office. However, that can be challenged in court.

Scheffel was first elected to the state board of education in 2010 as a representative of the 6th Congressional District. Her home and voter registration were listed as 12067 Summit Ridge Road in Parker.

But in 2011, after the state redrew its maps for the congressional districts, her home became part of the 4th Congressional District. Scheffel was allowed to serve out the rest of her term even though she didn’t live in the district.

Scheffel candidate affidavit for the board of education race showed her parents’ home as her physical address.

Scheffel filed for re-election to that 6th Congressional District seat on Sept. 24, 2015, listing as her physical address her parents’ home in the 6th District. She changed her voter registration to that address that same day. Scheffel lost that race to Democrat Rebecca McClellan.

On March 1, 2017, Scheffel changed her voter registration back to the Summit Ridge home in Parker. In July 2017, she filed to run for the Douglas County Board of Education, a race she lost last November by 15 percent. Her candidate affidavit listed her physical address as 10940 South Parker Road, which isn’t a home; it’s a strip mall.

Scheffel listed a different address, 9791 Summit Ridge Road, on her candidate affidavit when she filed to run for the 4th Congressional District board of education seat on March 22 of this year. That home is owned by her brother, former state Sen. Mark Scheffel, and was purchased by him in 2017, according to Douglas County assessor records.

Scheffel candidate affidavit for DougCo School Board, showing a physical address that is a strip mall.
Scheffel’s candidate affidavit for the 4th CD seat listed her brother’s home as her address.

Cole told Colorado Politics Scheffel was “couch-surfing” between her parents’ and brother’s home between November of last year and this past April because she was in the process of buying a new home.

She could not list that new address on the paperwork she filed because she had not yet closed on the property.

Scheffel, in a separate statement to Colorado Politics, said that in October 2017 she signed a contract and put down escrow money to buy a new home at 11936 Barrentine Loop in Parker. She was unable to close on the home for several months. After she signed the contract for the Barrentine home, she decided to rent out the home at 12067 Summit Ridge Road, even though her voter registration was still tied to that address.

“I put most (but not all) of my stuff in storage,” Scheffel told Colorado Politics.  “And starting in November 2017, I traveled, slept at my brother’s home, and slept at my parents’ home. I never established new residency at any of these places, because I never intended to stay. Rather, I planned to move into the Barrentine property, which was under contract. I treated the Summit Ridge Road home as my residence … Basically, from November 2017 until late March 2018, I spent a few months couch-surfing and traveling.”

Scheffel said she finished moving into the Barrentine Loop home in April; her campaign information on TRACER, the Secretary of State’s campaign finance website, was amended to include that information on April 5. She changed her voter registration that same day.

Even though she wasn’t living at the Summit Ridge home she’s owned since 2002 when she filed her candidate affidavit last March, Cole said Scheffel considered that property as her principal address, and that’s where her voter registration information was listed.

“It was within her rights to list that address as her permanent address,” Cole said.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.