Late last year, Denver area talk radio host Steffan Tubbs departed from his job at 710 KNUS. But any listeners who missed Tubbs can find him in what might be an unexpected place: the Rocky Mountain Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), where he was recently hired as Public Relations Specialist.
“I have missed [my old job],” Tubbs said in a Feb. 1 interview with KNUS radio host George Brauchler, who also left KNUS. “But I am so happy to be where I am now because as corny as it sounds, I feel like now I can use whatever talent that I can bring them, in what I know I can bring to the Drug Enforcement Administration and our Rocky Mountain Field Division.”
When he was at KNUS, Tubbs led a campaign against a 2019 bill that could have established safe injection sites (which allow people to use drugs under the supervision of medical personnel) in Colorado. Tubbs’ attacks on the concept were rife with misinformation, and he frequently failed to provide evidence for his claims.
While no such bill would be introduced in the 2019 session, legislation to establish safe injection sites was introduced in 2023, and Tubbs continued to use his radio platform to oppose it. The bill ultimately died in committee after Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) made it clear that he would veto it.
On air, Tubbs did not deny the possibility that he had been recruited for the DEA position in part because someone there liked his radio work.
Asked jokingly by Brauchler if anyone on the “hiring committee” listened to Tubbs’ show, Tubbs gave a vague answer: “Someone at DEA Rocky Mountain Field Division came into my office [at the DEA]. … And I’ve never met or I’ve never laid eyes on this human being. He just stood there, and he smiled. He smiles and he says, ‘How’s everything going?’ I said, ‘It’s going great; thank you so much.’ [He said,] ‘Just wanted to check. I loved your show.’”
The DEA did not return emails and calls seeking to know if Tubbs landed his DEA job because someone on the DEA hiring committee loved his right-wing radio show. Also unanswered is the question of whether the DEA would view job applicants favorably if they came from progressive media outlets.
During his time at KNUS, Tubbs also frequently mocked public health officials and political leaders who promoted COVID vaccines. He also enabled at least one caller to spread misinformation about vaccines causing “thousands” of deaths.
“I just feel like knowing what I know about the media and especially in the Denver-Metro Area and being here so long, I think. I think they made a smart choice in hiring me, but I know that I made a great choice in the decision,” Tubbs said.
Tubbs spoke about a recent Rocky Mountain DEA press conference, in which Acting Special Agent in Charge David Olesky provided information on a record amount of fentanyl seized in 2023. While Tubbs seemed pleased with some media coverage of the event, he maintained his polemical distaste for Denver-area media, which was a frequent talking point during his radio career.
Tubbs went on to accuse local media outlets of being “lazy” with their coverage of fentanyl and other issues.
Explaining some of his plans for his new position, Tubbs said, “I went to a briefing yesterday that I’m going to try in my position to get this special agent within the division to do an off-the-record, behind-the-scenes kind of training presentation to members of the local media,” he said. “… For the most part, I think I’ve made it clear on this radio station for nearly six years how I feel about most of the local media. Lazy, not doing the job.”
The DEA was asked, via also email, whether it shares Tubbs’ view that “most of the local media” are “lazy.” No response was received.
DEA spokeswoman Katherine Pfaff initially indicated that she would respond to the Colorado Times Recorder‘s questions about Tubbs, but then never responded.
“We just wanted to let you know that we’ve received your request and will need to look into this,” Pfaff emailed. “What is your deadline and when would you plan to run something?”
The Colorado Times Recorder then provided Pfaff with Tubbs’ full quotes from his KNUS interview, and she responded with, “Thanks, Jason – this is helpful. I’ll come back to you as soon as I can.”