People United for Responsible Government
We have just learned that Weld County Commissioner Julie Cozad has now dropped her private attorney who had been representing her in the ethics complaint that is now pending before the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission. Instead, Cozad will be represented by County Attorney Bruce Barker.
This development came to light when the plaintiff in the Cozad ethics case was notified by the IEC that the Colorado Supreme Court had denied a request by Attorney Barker to reverse the IEC ruling that it has jurisdiction in this case. By effectively affirming the IEC ruling that the Weld County ethics code did not meet the criteria set forth by Article XXIX of the Colorado Constitution that may exempt home rule counties, the Court enables the IEC to proceed with it’s investigation and potentially the application of a penalty, which in this case could amount to more than $9000.
Upon further inquiry, it was confirmed that Commissioner Cozad is now represented by County Attorney Barker instead of her previous counsel, Jason Dunn of the law firm of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, Schrek LLP. This means that unless Barker is waiving his salary during the time he spends on Cozad’s defense, the Weld County taxpayers are paying for defending a Commissioner accused of ethics violations. Since this case does not address any County interest, approval of this additional compensation for Commissioner Cozad indicates that the BOCC has overstepped their authority since only the County Council can set the compensation for the Commissioners.
There is apparently a question of whether or not Mr. Barker has a conflict of interest since he is, in effect, working against a citizen of Weld County, while his responsibility is to the entire County.
It is also worth noting that on December 4, 2017, we explicitly asked Cozad during a BOCC meeting whether the County was paying for her defense. At that time, she assured us she was covering her own expenses. Apparently, her taking responsibility for her own actions is no longer an expectation.
Since Cozad is not running for reelection, we note that her replacement, Mike Finn, has repeatedly expressed his support for Cozad, saying that she has been a “great Commissioner”, despite the ongoing questions about her ethics, and now sticking the taxpayers with the cost of her defense.
Isn’t it time to get rid of these Commissioners who are so willing to play “fast and loose” with the law and making sure their chosen replacements are defeated?