Monument trustee accused of unethical pursuit of town job
Author: Rachel Riley, The Gazette - February 23, 2018 - Updated: February 23, 2018
An elected Monument official may have acted unethically by offering gifts to the town manager while pursuing a position on his staff and later threatening town employees when he didn’t get the job, records indicate.
Trustee Jeffrey Bornstein, who’s running for mayor in the town’s April election, spent months last spring and summer boasting of his fitness for the code enforcement officer job to Town Manager Chris Lowe and asking for repeated status updates on the position – which the trustee said he wanted “very badly” – according to text messages between the two men published online late last week.
On March 30, after twice inquiring about the job to Lowe via text, Bornstein said he had “great ideas and could succeed beyond any expectations.”
“I’m reaching out asking for your help…” he texted Lowe.
Several days later, he asked Lowe if his two sons liked kites. “I got a custom one if they would share it?”
On April 16, just before telling Lowe to “post that job!!!” he offered the town manager a smoker, saying he didn’t need it.
Lowe, who is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of misconduct that appears to be unrelated, outlined Bornstein’s alleged misconduct in a memo, dated Nov. 27 and addressed to the town attorney. In the memo, he said Bornstein “made constant and inappropriate requests” while seeking the job and, after he wasn’t hired, retaliated by telling town employees he’d have them fired.
In response to the messages and memo published Saturday by the website CompleteColorado.com, Bornstein said Wednesday his comments were mischaracterized. He called the allegations “fake news” generated by Lowe and another candidate’s political team to damage his reputation during campaign season.
CompleteColorado.com bills itself as “a one-stop shop for all the best news, opinion and investigative reporting from around the state.” The story was written by Scott Weiser, who has written columns for The Gazette on local news and politics.
The Gazette obtained the documents anonymously and asked Monument Mayor Jeffrey Kaiser to review them. Kaiser said he had been given the same memo “in an unofficial capacity,” but declined to say who provided it. He said the text messages were “consistent” with records he had seen attached to the memo.
The allegations, “without question,” would constitute bribery if proven true, Kaiser said in an interview.
“Those texts are pretty damning,” he said.
Whether Bornstein could be disciplined is uncertain.
Kaiser has asked the town attorney what the Board of Trustees’ legal obligations and options are for disciplining or sanctioning another board member. He declined to elaborate on those conversations, citing attorney-client privilege.
The 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office would be responsible for investigating if criminal charges are warranted, Kaiser said. He didn’t know if town staff had provided the District Attorney’s Office with information about the allegations.
The trustee position is unpaid, and according to Lowe’s memo, Bornstein was unemployed at the time. The town chose to contract for code enforcement services instead of hiring a staff member, Lowe said.
He wrote in the memo that, at a Nov. 20 meeting, Bornstein threatened to have him fired if he didn’t support a raise for police officers for which Bornstein was lobbying.
“Mr. Bornstein stepped over the ethical line,” Lowe told The Gazette on Thursday.
Bornstein disputed the allegations in a letter he posted to his campaign website on Wednesday.
“I am very disappointed that our town has now fallen prey to special interest groups, consultants, politicians and residents with the objective to destroy an individual’s character, reputation and integrity in order to obtain personal and financial gain by influencing our upcoming election,” he wrote.
His sole opponent in the race, Monument’s current Mayor Pro Tem Don Wilson, did not respond to a call and email asking for comment.