An ethics complaint was filed this week with the Durango Clerk’s Office, the second allegation of wrongdoing in less than a month.
The two complaints – one filed Aug. 2 and the second submitted Monday – are the first the city’s Board of Ethics has had to review since 2016, when it dismissed allegations against former City Councilor Sweetie Marbury, said Deputy City Clerk Chris Vicari.
“It’s quite rare for the city of Durango,” she said of formal ethics violations.
The Durango Herald has filed open-records requests seeking access to both complaints. The city denied the Herald’s first request for access to the Aug. 2 complaint, citing “confidential and privileged information,” and did not immediately respond to the second request.
City staff members say local ethics rules prohibit releasing information about an ethics complaint before the ethics board has had a chance to “screen” the allegations for validity.
According to city rules, ethics complaints are not made public before they have been screened by the ethics board for fear an allegation “could harm the reputation of an innocent person and is contrary to the public interest.”
The Herald published a story late last month about City Manager Ron LeBlanc’s house being listed for sale with Durango Land and Homes, which is co-owned by City Councilor Chris Bettin.
The city’s code of ethics forbids a supervisor from engaging “in a substantial financial transaction for the public official’s private business purposes with a person the city official inspects or supervises in the course of the city official’s official duties.” Bettin is one of LeBlanc’s five direct supervisors.
The ethics board is scheduled to screen the Aug. 2 complaint Friday. A screening of the most recent complaint has not yet been scheduled, Vicari said. City code requires any ethics complaint be screened within 14 working days.
The board’s decision to dismiss, mediate or investigate allegations will be made public, said City Attorney Dirk Nelson. The findings and recommendations of the Board of Ethics will also be made public, according to the board’s rules.