Denver councilman talks about why he wants independent investigation into Mayor Hancock

Rafael Espinoza sends letter detailing request
Posted at 3:29 PM, Mar 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-13 19:46:18-04

DENVER -- Mayor Michael Hancock and the Denver City Council met in a closed-door session after calls for an independent investigation into the mayor's sexual harassment scandal. 

Councilman Rafael Espinoza is the first to call for an outside investigation into the matter. He said he could not comment on what was discussed during the executive session meeting, which happened just one day after he confirmed his request for a review.

"That was me making, essentially, a personal plea," said Espinoza. 

Denver7 Investigates was the first to expose sexual harassment allegations made by former police detective Leslie Branch-Wise while she worked on his security detail. She said Hancock made inappropriate comments and sent her harassing text messages in 2012, which she provided to Denver7 Investigates. In one text, Hancock compliments her haircut and writes, “You made it hard on a brotha to keep it correct every day.”

Councilman Rafael Espinoza sent a letter to the mayor requesting a review from an outside party. In the letter he asked the mayor to, "remove the cloud forming over his administration." He said in the letter that it's clear Mayor Hancock's behavior is sexual harassment coming from the most powerful individual in the city.

"He needs to do this for both us and himself and the public, to basically say look I would rather have somebody else not affiliated investigate this thing the same way we did and see what conclusions they draw," said Espinoza. 

A spokesperson for the mayor sent the following statement in response to the request for an independent investigation:

"Mayor Hancock has been open, honest and transparent and has taken full responsibility for his actions. The Councilman's letter is full of inaccuracies and accusations and we encourage him to take time with the City Attorney to acquaint himself with the facts."

Espinoza admits the letter was hastily written but said he stands by the intent to have a third party review the scandal. He said there were a number of questions answered in the meeting but he still has additional concerns.

He also said the request to launch an investigation would be left up to the mayor instead of council.

"It rests on him," said Espinoza.