PUEBLO — In an emergency meeting on Thursday, Pueblo's City Council unanimously voted to hire a private attorney to investigate an ethics complaint filed against Mayor Nicholas Gradisar.
The complaint stems from a series of letters the Mayor sent to nonprofits. The letters say the Mayor would recommend a certain amount of funds for each nonprofit to city council, depending on whether or not a certain ballot measure passes in the upcoming election.
The letter stated "If 2A does not pass, the City will not be able to retain excess revenues and they will have to be returned to taxpayers. In that event, my recommendation will have to be reconsidered".
Todd Rogers, who is running for City Council representing District 4 in the upcoming election, filed the ethics complaint.
He is not associated with the Human Relations Commission, the nonprofit who provided the letter for the complaint.
"It seems to me like he was trying to influence a ballot proposition," said Rogers.
If ballot measure 2A passes, the City of Pueblo will be able to keep excess revenues from TABOR funds to repair roads, and in the future, address other needs in the community.
“The people can vote. Now to go in and try to tamper with that and effect the outcome of that, now is election tampering."
Mayor Gradisar believes the complaint is politically motivated.
Gradisar hoped City Council would "see this for what it is, which is a cheap political trick to try to pump some air into a lack-luster campaign for City Council.“
Rogers says he did not file the complaint to win the election, because he says he did not need to.
"I felt pretty confident I’m going to win this election anyways. This is not something I had to do to win,“ Rogers said.
Gradisar stands by the content in the letters, saying "I thought it was only fair so that they would know that if we have to refund the money to the voters, there will be less money to spend in the city, just as simple as that."
City Council determined they need hire an attorney from outside of the community (AKA Colorado Springs or Denver) to conduce an independent investigation into the Mayor's ethics.