Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey was concerned enough about possible violations of state open records laws by the Denver city attorney’s office that he assigned a deputy to look into the press reports, his spokeswoman said Friday.
The Colorado Open Records Act says that willfully and knowingly withholding records is a misdemeanor, and in September 2015 the city attorney’s office told CBS Denver investigative reporter Brian Maass there was no letter rescinding the termination of Assistant City Attorney Stuart Shapiro provided to Shapiro. That letter appeared in a whistleblower complaint Shapiro filed last week.
“Allegations outlined in published media reports were enough that there was concern about the allegations,” Morrissey spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough told Watchdog.org. “The district attorney’s office is looking further into them. It’s not a formal review. It’s not an investigation, yet.”
Kimbrough said their attorney is gathering any documentation he can and should have a decision about how to proceed as soon as the middle of next week.
City Attorney Scott Martinez did not respond to a telephone message or an email inquiry.
Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition executive director Jeff Roberts praised the DA’s review, saying it could set a precedent.
“It’s good to hear the Denver DA is taking a serious look at what appears to be a blatant withholding of public records,” Roberts wrote in an email exchange. “As far as we know, no public official has ever been prosecuted for violating the Colorado Open Records Act. So it’ll be interesting to see what he determines.”
Martinez’s office has been the focus of a number of controversies, including his handling of an office remodel, contracts going to firms with ties to the office, a huge settlement in a jail abuse case and placing Shapiro on paid leave for more than year while giving him pay bumps.