Letter to the editor: Routt County commissioners respond to allegations made by county treasurer | SteamboatToday.com

Letter to the editor: Routt County commissioners respond to allegations made by county treasurer

In the interest of transparency and conducting the public’s business in full view of the community we serve, we want the residents of Routt County to be aware that Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn at some point went to Sheriff Garrett Wiggins and attempted to have the Routt County Board of County Commissioners criminally charged because we “set up a Pay-Pal account to allow for the on-line payment of certain fees for county services.” The fees “were to be forwarded (“swept”) into an account set up by, and under the control of, the Routt County Treasurer at Wells Fargo.”

On Friday, we received a copy of a Dec. 17 letter to Wiggins from District Attorney Brett Barkey referencing a “Declination of Charges in Incident No. S1505923.” That letter addresses an “investigative report” arising from Horn’s false allegations.

Having examined the facts and reviewing “various statutes related to the powers of boards of county commissioners, including contracting authority, and the duties of a county treasurer,” plus “provisions that criminalize certain failures of officials to do their duty,” and “general provisions regarding standards of conduct in government service,” Barkey determined “there is no criminal violation of law.”

Underscoring just how spurious and illegitimate Horn’s allegations of criminality against us are, Barkey included the next three paragraphs in his letter:

“In my opinion, the use of Pay-Pal or any other vendor contracted by the County to gather receipts before they are forwarded to the Treasurer is not practically different from cash receipts being accepted by the Clerk and Recorder and then walked down to the Treasurer’s Office. The fact that a person or entity other than a member of the Treasurer’s Office takes first control of the funds on behalf of the county but then ultimately forwards them to the Treasurer is, I believe, the common practice in our counties and complies with the requirements of C.R.S. 30-10-102. That being the case, there is no basis to conclude that any county commissioner or other county employee refused or neglected a duty mandated in law.

“Further, because the funds were ultimately to pass to the control of the Treasurer, there appears to me to be no evidence whatsoever of criminal intent on anyone’s part. For instance, there is no evidence that any party sought or received an undue personal gain, sought maliciously to cause harm to any person, or acted arbitrarily or capriciously.

“Therefore, finding no violation of a criminal law, much less any evidence of criminal intent, I conclude that there is no legal or factual basis to bring criminal charges in this matter.”

Common sense dictates that allegations of criminality that are clearly without merit or substance shouldn’t be investigated as that is a waste of limited police and prosecutorial resources and taxpayer money. But when elected officials entrusted with taxpayer dollars are accused of criminal intent and conduct in their service, in this case by another elected official, we believe the allegations warranted an immediate, independent and full investigation.

As elected county officials we are entrusted with maintaining civic, legal and ethical integrity in our system of government. It is our hope that this impartial investigation concluding the allegations are totally without merit will allay the inexplicable and unwarranted concerns of Horn and maintain the credibility of our board that is critical to a properly functioning county government.

Routt County commissioners Cari Hermacinski, Doug Monger and Tim Corrigan

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