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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 2, 20183min455

Will the Denver City Council launch an investigation into inappropriate text messages that Mayor Michael Hancock sent to a female police officer six years ago? We won’t have an answer until later this week at the earliest, Denver City Council President Albus Brooks says.

In late February, the two-term Denver mayor admitted to sending inappropriate text messages to Denver Police Detective Leslie Branch-Wise when she was an officer serving on his security detail in 2012.

The Denver council met for three hours in closed session on Tuesday discussing the merits of an investigation, at the request of Branch-Wise.

Denver7’s Tony Kovaleski first broke the story last month, airing out the slew of text messages from Hancock to Branch-Wise, six years ago.

“You look sexy in all that black,” he texted after seeing Branch-Wise on TV at a Denver Nuggets game.

Hancock quickly responded in a written statement and video, writing in part “During Detective Branch-Wise’s time on the security team, we became friends, but my text messages in 2012 blurred the lines between being a friend and being a boss.”

But what power does the City Council have related to an investigation? What would a probe look like? For one, only city voters can remove the mayor from office, or any elected official for that matter, under the city’s charter, according to a FAQ document included in Brooks’ statement Thursday.

“In Denver, like most cities and states, one branch of government does not have the power to remove or discipline an elected official serving in another branch of government,” the FAQ said.

The City Council does have the power “to investigate any Department of the City and County and the official acts and conduct of any officer thereof, and may compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books and documents,” the document reads.

But what would an investigation actually probe and would it be independent?

If the council voted to investigate, it would likely request “the Executive Branch” of city government hire a third party to conduct the probe to ensure it is unbiased, the FAQ reads.

An investigator would then seek an answer to whether the alleged conduct occurred and not whether the conduct “rises to the level of sexual harassment which is a legal definition to be determined by a court of law.”

“This is why most sexual harassment investigations end with the conclusion that it is more likely than not that an action occurred,” the document said.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyMarch 5, 20184min1818

Last week, two-term Denver Mayor Michael Hancock admitted to sending inappropriate text messages to Denver Police Detective Leslie Branch-Wise when she was an officer serving on his security detail in 2012.

Denver7’s Tony Kovaleski first broke the story , airing out the slew of text messages from Hancock to Branch-Wise, six years ago.

“You look sexy in all that black,” he texted after seeing Branch-Wise on TV at a Denver Nuggets game.

Hancock quickly responded in a written statement and video, writing in part “During Detective Branch-Wise’s time on the security team, we became friends, but my text messages in 2012 blurred the lines between being a friend and being a boss.”

“But let me be clear — my behavior did not involve sexual advances or inappropriate physical contact,” Hancock said. The mayor has reportedly also sent a handwritten apology to Branch-Wise and a memo to city staff.

But Branch-Wise, in the Denver7 piece, said she was a victim of sexual harassment and pointed out that Hancock, her boss, was showering her with inappropriate texts. “Who do you tell if he’s at the top,” she asked.

Hancock is said to be jockeying for a third term as Denver mayor next year, but Democratic insiders have pointed to him as a potential challenger to U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020 or a gubernatorial candidate in 2022, Colorado Politics’ own Joey Bunch reports.

As the mile high city’s principal executive, Hancock has garnered national attention for navigating a city that has become a showcase for its recreational marijuana commerce and growth.

But should Hancock resign in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations? Colorado Independent’s Mike Littwin wrote in a column this week:

“I’m not ready to call for his resignation. There’s no allegation of physical contact and, to this point, there is only the one charge, six years old, that he harassed anyone. But that doesn’t mean this should be over,” Littwin writes. “First, Hancock has to concede that what he did was, in fact, sexual harassment. If he doesn’t understand that, he doesn’t understand the issue. And that’s unacceptable. And then there’s the even more critical point — whether or not this was a one-off.”

Others have called for Hancock’s resignation and police organizations like the Denver Fraternal Order of Police and Denver Police Protective Association have called for officials to be held accountable for their behavior.

“While we are aware that this isn’t the first time the Mayor’s name has been associated with sexual scandal, we consider the allegations against Mayor Michael Hancock very serious. We urge the people of Denver to be adamant that our City officials are held accountable to the highest standard for their behavior and actions,” DPPA wrote in a statement according to Westword.

In statements, Councilwoman Debra Ortega called the allegations disappointing while Council President Albus Brooks said “the Mayor has rightfully apologized and I trust that he and his administration are taking the appropriate steps to learn from this lesson so it won’t happen again.”

“In this situation, Denver City Council has no legal authority to take any action on behalf of this employee or against the Mayor,” Brooks continued.