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Denver ethics board and councilman disagree on gifts

Posted at 5:10 PM, Jun 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-28 21:35:29-04

DENVER -- Expensive travel is prompting questions about what is considered a gift when it comes to Denver City Council members. 

Denver's Board of Ethics and Councilman Kevin Flynn are in disagreement over an interpretation of the city's code. At issue: Should travel donated by the airport be considered a perk or just part of doing business?

"I think the fundamental disagreement is that we believe the risk of special influence exists even when the gift comes from somebody who works within the city—particularly when the gift is paid for by the city itself," said Patrick Tooley, Chairman for the Board of Ethics.

Councilman Flynn said the Board of Ethics is completely out of line because city agencies can't be donors. He said travel expenses on city business are not a gift when city employees are conducting business and it's certainly not an ethical issue. 

Flynn recently introduced a measure that he said would increase transparency by containing a requirement for twice-a-year reporting of items that other city agencies provide, including any overnight travel expenses. His bill is in response to the ethics opinion and would allow Denver officials to accept government provided gifts, including travel.

The Board of Ethics said in a letter, "The Code of Ethics is clear and contains no language state, or even implying, that a council member or other city official may accept (or solicit) from a City agency head or employee a gift paid for by funds appropriated by the city."

See the Board of Ethics' response to Flynn by clicking here.

Read Flynn's response to the Board of Ethics here.