Colorado

Sep 10, 2009 6:42 PM by Andy Koen

City attorney accused of breaking campaign law

A former assistant city attorney is accusing his old boss of violating campaign finance and labor laws. Thomas Marrese sent an email to Douglas Bruce and the Gazette Wednesday claiming that city attorney Patricia Kelly instructed a co-worker to write a memo highlighting the potentially negative impacts of Bruce's ballot initiative during the 2008 election.

The email goes on to say that when the co-worker said doing so might violate the Fair Campaign Practices Act, Kelly allegedly requested that he write the memo anyway and that he use vacation time to do so.

Voters rejected the initiative which would have blocked the city from collecting enterprise fees.

Bruce wasn't surprised by the claims of Marrese's email and said that the city attorney's office is constantly trying to block his initiatives.

"I'm glad that Tom Marrese finally saw light, at least in this one regard," Bruce said.

He points to the legal battle he fought with Marrese over ballot issues 200 and 201 during the 2006 election as evidence to the validity of Marrese's accusations.

City spokesperson Sue Skiffington-Blumberg says Kelly did nothing wrong and that this revelation is the result of a disgruntled employee.

"This really is about Ms. Kelly's character that is under attack here and we have nothing but the greatest faith in her character," Skiffington-Blumberg said.

Chantell Taylor, the director of watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch read Marrese's email. She says while on the surface it looks like a questionable use of tax payers money, it's hard to determine whether there was any wrongdoing without all of the facts.

"Any legal accountability is unlikely since the situation occurred more than 180 days ago - the limitations period for such claims," Taylor said.

She also fault shortcomings in state law for allowing public officials to use resources in ways that seem improper but are technically legal.

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