DENVER – Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas was suspended as chair of the board Tuesday by two fellow commissioners, though the reasons for her suspension vary, depending on which side you're listening to.
On Tuesday afternoon, Thomas took to Twitter to say the suspension was a “politically motivated stunt” and claimed she was removed for protecting taxpayers from funding a Renewable Water Resources (RWR) proposal, which she called a “boondoggle water project to take water from the San Luis Valley w/ARPA $$.”
A joint statement from the Douglas County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, however, noted the suspension was due to a letter of resignation from a first responder whose information had been allegedly shared publicly by Thomas at a large political event, which commissioners claim, “Thomas circulated for her own political advantage.”
“The Board is also in receipt of correspondence from Lora Thomas, which was not authorized by the Board, wherein she attempted to “DOX” farmers who had expressed fear that there would be personal and financial retribution to them for speaking out about water issues,” the release states.
It continues, “Lora Thomas had been advised that all information received from individuals in the valley would be shared with the full board, but that specific identities would be protected to ensure no harm came their way. She made the poor decision to callously ignore this direction from the board and assert herself as “Chair of the Board” in order to intimidate these individuals.”
The Parker Chronicle, which was the first to report on Thomas’ suspension, reported Commissioner Abe Laydon said Thomas “directed a lawyer working for the county to record and take notes on who met with Laydon during a meeting in the San Luis Valley regarding the Renewable Water Resources proposal.”
The Parker Chronicle reports the RWR had already asked the county for $10 million to transport about 22,000 acre-feet of water per year from the San Luis Valley to Douglas County, a plan many politicians from the area are against, including U.S. Reps. Lauren Boebert and Cleave Simpson, both Republicans from the region.
Thomas defended her request for information after Lyndon attended that meeting to privately hear from supporters of the plan, saying it was “absolutely appropriate” for her to do so if Laydon spoke as a board member, according to the Parker Chronicle.
In their statement Wednesday, the Douglas County Board said these latest allegations are the most recent example of Thomas’ conduct to “bully, harass, and intimidate those with whom she disagrees.”
“Putting our valuable employees at risk and exposing our first responders to professional harm for her own political benefit is highly inappropriate and character unbecoming the chair of our board,” the commissioners wrote.