Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Collins ethics issue on tap for Monday

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 5:22 PM

As we report in tomorrow's edition, the investigation of an ethics allegation against City Councilor Helen Collins is completed.

Here's the complaint against Collins, filed by the City Attorney's Office in January:

Next step is for City Council to consider the report, which it plans to do in closed session on Monday. But here's the odd thing: unlike other members of Council, Collins herself hasn't been given a copy of the investigative report put together by the city's three-member Independent Ethics Commission.

Helen Collins - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Helen Collins
So says her friend, Douglas Bruce. He says not only is she being shut out of knowing the outcome of the investigation, but Council plans to bar her from its executive session. Bruce says Collins doesn't want the discussion to take place in secret but rather in open session.

Bruce presumes, then, that Collins won't be allowed to vote on whatever avenue Council chooses, whether to fine her double the amount of personal financial gain that resulted from the ethics breach (which Collins has said is zero) or censure, a symbolic move without consequences.

In any event, the Council has hired a New York City lawyer to represent it in the matter. "Council's retained attorney is Suzanne Dugan, of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC," says Council Administrator Eileen Gonzales. "The hourly rate she proposed is $300."

Gonzales further explains:
There were 15 respondents to the RFP for "Legal Advisor to the IEC on an 'As Needed Basis'" earlier this year. Of those, the Selection Committee chose 9, and six of those were eliminated for this project for various conflict-related reasons. Of the remaining three, Council selected Ms. Dugan based on her qualifications in this specialized area of government ethics law. Ms. Dugan also serves in an ethics compliance role for another Colorado jurisdiction (Adams County), so she's familiar with Colorado law in this area.
We asked if the city also will pay her expenses and haven't heard back. We've also asked the city how much has been paid so far to Jane Feldman, a Denver lawyer hired to represent the Ethics Commission, but haven't heard anything.

It's worth noting that Collins survived a recall attempt at the April 7 election — after the ethics complaint was filed and made public.

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