Monument Town Council hires two attorneys to participate in campaign finance investigation | thetribune

MONUMENT • Monument Town Council has decided to not only hire one special attorney, but also to contract another to represent town staff in an investigation of a possible campaign finance violation.

Grant Van Der Jagt

At the council’s second of two special meetings held within one week, on Dec. 16 at Monument town hall, it approved a resolution to hire Castle Rock attorney Grant Van Der Jagt to investigate concerns relating to campaign finance reporting for the Nov. 8 election from the Citizens for Home Rule issue committee.

At issue was whether the town violated the Colorado Fair Campaign Practices act when it donated $2,500 to the local Citizens for Home Rule Charter issue committee.

By the time the resolution was approved 4-1, the council also approved, at the request of Town Manager Mike Foreman, hiring a second attorney to represent town staff over the course of the investigation. This was necessary because the town’s interim attorney, Katheryn Sellers, served as counsel for the Home Rule Charter Commission, which created a conflict for her on the matter.

The cost to the town to employ two outside attorneys in the investigation is estimated to be $20,000.

Councilman and mayor-elect Mitch LaKind objected to the cost and asked why the initial investigation had to be done immediately, over the following two weeks, when a special election wouldn’t occur for another 23 months. Van Der Jagt agreed to a comprehensive investigation should take more than 15 days.

“Some of the testimony and things like that could be fleeting. Typically, when the special investigator comes in, the shredding starts,” Van Der Jagt said. “You just want to make sure that you catch some of that before the evidence is destroyed. So some of it is urgent and some of it isn’t.”

Foreman asked what the expectation was for interviewing employees who were on vacation, since this time of year the town runs on a skeleton crew. He said town staff have nothing to hide, and that any questions could be asked in a public meeting, if necessary.

“We haven’t done anything wrong,” Foreman said. “None of the staff did, so if you want to ask questions, we can answer them right now.”

Foreman said he would assign an employee to be the point of contact for the investigator. He also noted he would be on vacation the next two weeks but could be reached by phone.

Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott said one of her concerns regarding the urgency of the investigation was that the incoming councilmembers may decide to discontinue the investigation, even though mayor-elect LaKind has said he’s committed to continuing it.

Councilman Jim Romanello took a moment to ask Foreman a handful of investigative questions. Asked about the town paying an invoice from Tri-Lakes Printing for the creation of the 2A campaign materials, Foreman stated he had no information regarding whether the interim town attorney had given the green light to such an action.

As for the 2A materials in question, Foreman said no one among the town staff was provided a “proof” of the materials before the invoice payment had been authorized.

Addressing residents who had brought up concerns during public comment about the potential cost of an independent investigation, and noted the issue had been publicly exposed and corrected, Van Der Jagt said a lot of what was alluded to is “probably in large regard true.” He added that if any procedures were ignored in the process, the investigation would help the new council decide how to correct them.

As of press time, the town had not scheduled any additional special meetings regarding the investigation.


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