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A former Democratic Party activist who left dog feces on the doorstep of U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's office during last year's 4th Congressional District campaign was found not guilty of criminal use of a noxious substance.
A Weld County jury deliberated about two hours Wednesday before acquitting Kathleen Ensz of the misdemeanor count. Her trial began Tuesday.
Ensz's lawyers never denied that their client left a Musgrave campaign brochure full of feces at the front door of the Colorado congresswoman's office in Greeley, CO. But they argued that Ensz was making a statement protected by free speech — the poop was a symbol of what she thought of Musgrave's politics.
"Her only intention of going over there was to make a political statement that Marilyn Musgrave's politics stink," attorney Shannon D. Lyons said after the verdict.
Lyons argued that Ensz shouldn't have been prosecuted by the District Attorney's Office in the first place.
"It never would have been prosecuted if this happened to anybody other than a congresswoman," Lyons said. "The fact of the matter is (that) this was all politics, and it was a political prosecution from start to end."
A spokeswoman for the Weld County district attorney declined to comment on the verdict, and Ensz could not be reached.
Campaign officials for Musgrave, who was challenged last fall by Democratic state Rep. Angie Paccione, denounced the incident as a political dirty trick committed by a Democratic Party official.
Paccione's campaign staff denied any knowledge of the act.
Ensz had served as vice chairwoman of her party's state Senate District 13. Don Hoff, district chairman, said Ensz resigned from the post last fall.
Hoff defended Ensz's actions as protected free speech but not the tactic.
"Well, no, I wouldn't approve of it," he said.