Ethics Watch Files Complaint Against Former Jeffco Commissioner
Today, Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) against Kevin McCasky, former member of the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners and current CEO of the Jefferson Economic Council (JEC), for violating state ethics laws when he voted to increase the county government’s contribution to the JEC, reportedly in the midst of negotiating his own future employment at the organization.
This is the second complaint Ethics Watch has filed with the Independent Ethics Commission since it was approved by voters in November 2006. The first, a complaint against former Secretary of State Mike Coffman, resulted in the first public hearing of an ethics complaint by the IEC.
On February 16, it was revealed in the Columbine Courier that McCasky had encouraged his fellow county commissioners to increase JEC funding from $380,000 to $400,000 even while he was being considered for the high-paying position at the JEC. At the time, the county was facing significant budget cuts.
“It appears as though McCasky abused his position as county commissioner for private gain, either gaining increased consideration of his candidacy for the position at the JEC, or an increased budget for the organization he would work for in the future, or both,” said Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “The IEC should investigate this matter immediately to determine if a violation of state ethics laws occurred, and impose the proper penalty.”
While Commissioner McCasky’s salary as CEO of JEC is not publicly known, JEC’s Form 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service for 2009 reported that the salary of the previous CEO was $121,000. Salary for a Jefferson County Commissioner is set at $87,300.
If Commissioner McCasky was involved in negotiations for future employment with the JEC at the time he took direct official action benefiting the JEC in December 2010, then Ethics Watch believes McClasky violated Colorado’s Ethics Code, which includes “prospective employment for which negotiations have begun” as a type of financial interest that could create a conflict of interest. In addition, the gift ban provisions of Article XXIX of the Colorado Constitution include “promises or negotiations of future employment” within the definition of gifts that are generally limited to $50 per person per year.
The Independent Ethics Commission was established in 2006 as this state’s primary recourse for ethics complaints and investigations. It is authorized to conduct investigations, hold public hearings, and render findings on complaints regarding allegations that any public official failed to comply with appropriate standards of conduct under state law.