Monument postpones investigation and report into possible campaign finance violations

Public discussions in Monument regarding a highly controversial report resulting from a town investigation into, among other issues, possible campaign finance violations by the town are on hold for a

Monument postpones investigation and report into possible campaign finance violations

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct a paraphrased quote from Mayor Mitch LaKind regarding the scope of the investigation.Public discussions in Monument regarding a highly controversial report resulting from a town investigation into, among other issues, possible campaign finance violations by the town are on hold for a little while longer.With no town attorney to review the document the Monument Town Council on Tuesday voted to postpone the investigation and report until it has hired an attorney to "properly review" it and consult with the council, at a future public meeting, on what actions officials should take. The council also voted to terminate Monument's agreement with Grant Van Der Jagt and his law firm, hired in mid-December to conduct the investigation, and demand Van Der Jagt turn over all investigative materials to the town.The council earlier on Tuesday directed staff to find an interim attorney as soon as possible.Mayor Mitch LaKind said Van Der Jagt's "actions during this investigation were self-serving" and that the investigation was biased due to the "obvious persona (sic) relationship between the attorney and a sitting member of this council." He also said the report examined the town charter, which "was not part of the resolution that the attorney was supposed to be investigating." "I promised the previous (Town Council) that we would go through the investigation ... and what is in the report, but we will not do it without an attorney.

Our own attorney," LaKind said in an interview Wednesday. "In this particular case, the investigator, while he was hired by the (council), was not a representative from the town."Van Der Jagt said Wednesday he had no conflict of interest because he never represented or had a financial interest with any member of the Monument Town Council. He said his firing was retaliatory because some council members were upset with the findings in his report, which they have not discussed publicly. Residents interested in being considered for appointment to fill two open Town Council seats should submit a letter of interest, a résumé and notarized affidavits affirming they meet the qualifications for appointment to the town clerk by 5 p.m.

on Jan. 30. Applicants are encouraged to attend the Town Council's regular meeting on Feb.

6 at 6:30 p.m. for interviews. For more information, call the Town Clerk's Office at 719-884-8035.A special council meeting on Dec.

28 ultimately ended without a discussion of the document, originally planned as a session closed to the public, as the meeting descended into chaos with residents and former Town Council shouting at each other. Also at that meeting, members of the public expressed concerns that the council's actions could open the town up to lawsuits since it was operating without an attorney. The report outlines several concerns, including possible redistricting problems in Monument's newly approved home rule charter, claims of sexual harassment, Town Manager Mike Foreman's work to create materials used to promote the passage of a ballot question to approve the charter and lack of oversight from the town attorney over the town's spending on materials to promote the question.The town spent about $2,500 on promotional materials, money that former members of the Home Rule Charter Commission said was refunded to the town.The report also calls for voiding the recently approved home rule charter."Being fired is a retaliatory action governed under the (U.S.

Department of Justice's) whistleblowing act," Van Der Jagt said.He has filed a complaint with the Department of Justice against the town and LaKind, Van Der Jagt said, adding that he will not turn over the investigative documents the council is requesting because some sources are anonymous. His contract was also made with the previous council, not the new council, he said."The new government I've never had a contract with, and the new government doesn't have a right to my documents," Van Der Jagt said. "It's my ethical obligation to refuse.

... I will not hand (that information) to this rogue board that's intent on retaliation against whistleblowers."LaKind said he had not seen the filed complaint and had no comment on it."I'm not going to address something I haven't officially seen," he said Wednesday.Van Der Jagt also said the scope of the investigation, outlined in an eight-page engagement letter former Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Elliott signed on Dec. 18, was "intentionally very vague." Only the first sentence of the engagement letter addresses it: "Dear prospective client: Pursuant to our telephone discussion the law firm agreed to investigate some issues for the board."On Tuesday, LaKind also pushed back on Van Der Jagt's previous claims at a Dec.

16 special Town Council meeting that he had never had an ethics violation filed against him."While this may be true considering his time as an attorney, it is not true of his time as a licensed Colorado real estate broker," LaKind said, claiming multiple ethics violations had been filed against Van Der Jagt during that time.LaKind claimed Van Der Jagt paid a reduced fine of about $3,000 and had his real estate license revoked to settle the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies' investigation into the complaints.The agency manages licensing and registration for Colorado businesses, among other duties.Van Der Jagt said Wednesday the claims were false and maintained no ethics violations have been made against him.The complaints filed with the agency were done by "customers and adverse parties" when Van Der Jagt was working as a property manager, which included conducting evictions for the property owners he represented, he said.While his real estate license gave him "a limited license to practice law," Van Der Jagt said he was also "licensed at a higher level" and could "practice complete and comprehensive law as an attorney.""I was authorized and I was also prohibited," he said. "What (the agency) found was I was acting as an attorney within my rights as an attorney, but I was doing things I was prohibited from doing as a broker."For example, real estate brokers cannot draft real estate contracts, leases or amendments, and cannot provide legal advice about those documents, but attorneys can.Van Der Jagt said he was ready to move away from real estate and focus on his law practice, so he settled the complaint with the agency "with no admission of guilt" to release his license, and he paid a reduced fine.Four of the six speakers during public comment at Tuesday's meeting said they wanted officials to continue the investigation into possible campaign finance violations by the town."I believe this is the only way that we're going to resolve this," former Home Rule Charter Commissioner Brandy Turner said.