Routt County sheriff denied access to opponent’s personnel records
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The city of Steamboat Springs has told Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins it will not release personnel records related to his opponent in the upcoming November election.
Wiggins requested all personnel records including application for employment, annual reviews and complaints for former Steamboat Springs Police Department Officer Kristin Bantle, who is running against Wiggins as a Democrat.
“I think it would be extremely important for the public to have these records to use in electing someone to serve them as a public official,” Wiggins said Thursday.
Wiggins said he was not surprised his records request was denied.
“I had expected they would deny that request just based on best practices,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins said he has not decided whether he would appeal the city’s decision not to release the records.
Wiggins also did not object to his personnel records being released from the time he worked at the police department.
Bantle on Thursday shared an email she sent to the city stating why she did not authorize the release of her personnel records.
She wrote that she felt the city had treated her in an arbitrary and capricious way, and she did not want her records released unless the city released a full investigative report that looked into the past inner workings of the police department.
“My rights to confidentiality do not change while running for public office,” Bantle wrote.
Police Chief Cory Christensen made the decision not to release Bantle’s personnel records.
In the denial, he wrote that he took Bantle’s request to have the records kept confidential very seriously.
“It is not lost on me, however, that Ms. Bantle is currently seeking public office,” Christensen wrote. “Additionally, some of the records being sought are subject to some protection per an agreement between the city of Steamboat Springs and Ms. Bantle.”
The city has an agreement with Bantle related to a lawsuit she threatened to file against the city. Bantle in 2016 received a $75,000 settlement from that lawsuit threat.
Christensen wrote that he felt the privacy issues outweigh the public interest in disclosing Bantle’s personnel records.
“Since Ms. Bantle is running for public office, the citizens can directly query her on any issue that is of importance to them,” Christensen wrote. “The public themselves have the opportunity to decide which issues are important to them and can directly interact with Ms. Bantle.”
The history between Wiggins and Bantle includes a lawsuit Bantle filed against Wiggins accusing him of illegally disclosing information about her past drug use.
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