In a meeting lasting less than 10 minutes, Colorado Springs City Council
voted Tuesday in a historic action to censure one of its own, Helen Collins
. The action has no impact on Collins' ability to carry out her Council duties.
It's believed to be the first finding of an ethics code violation since the ethics code was adopted in 2007.
Collins was accused by the City Attorney's Office
in a January 2015 complaint of acting against the city's interest in accepting the deed to a property owned by Douglas Bruce
in December 2014, and then selling it to a third-party buyer within a couple of days. The maneuver was seen as Bruce's attempt to stiff the city on a $7,500
court judgment unrelated to the property, although the City Attorney's Office hadn't filed a lien on the property in question at the time of the transfer.
Nevertheless, hearing officer Boyd Borland ruled Collins had violated the city's ethics code's requirement that elected officials owe a duty of loyalty to the city and cannot engage in activities that pose a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
The vote just moments ago was 6-1, with Collins not voting, Councilor Andy Pico opposing, and Councilor Don Knight being absent.
Pico dissented saying he needed to see "positive confirmation of intent" to commit a violation in order to support the finding.
The city spent upward of $50,000 on attorneys and hearing officer expenses, all of which have not yet been submitted, so the bill likely will climb.
Bruce was sent to prison last week after a Denver judge found he violated probation in a 2012 tax evasion case, in part by not reporting the Collins real estate transaction.
Collins has maintained she did nothing wrong and was targeted for her conservative views, her opposition to City Attorney Wynetta Massey's annual salary, which is set by Council, and opposition to City for Champions, which proposes to build a stadium in the southwest downtown area.