A former Denver City Council member has filed an ethics complaint against Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore after she voted against a delay in several contracts related to the renovation of City Park Golf Course to accommodate floodwater. Stacie Gilmore is married to Scott Gilmore, deputy executive director for Denver Parks and Rec, a position that is a mayoral appointment.
The potential for this relationship to cause a conflict of interest came up during Gilmore’s campaign, and after she was elected in 2015, the Gilmores sought a formal opinion from the Denver Board of Ethics. The board found that there was “significant potential” for conflicts of interest to arise but that Stacie Gilmore should feel free to vote on most routine parks matters. The Denver Post editorialized at the time that Gilmore should recuse herself on parks issues to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Gilmore has recused herself from votes on projects in which her brother-in-law’s company, Gilmore Construction, has a financial interest, including the major renovation of Denver International Airport’s Great Hall.
Since the Board of Ethics offered its opinion, the Denver City Council updated its Code of Ethics to expand the circumstances in which a substantial conflict of interest is present.
In the ethics complaint, Cathy Donohue called into question Gilmore’s vote against a delay in several contracts connected to the Platte to Park Hill flood control project. The proposed use of City Park Golf Course for stormwater detention is the subject of a lawsuit that goes to trial Aug. 21, but city officials want to move ahead with the contracts. Councilman Rafael Espinoza sought a delay in approving the contracts, but his motion failed 6-7, with Gilmore casting one of the no votes. The contracts were still delayed by one week — something any council member can request — but the request for a longer delay failed.
According to Robert’s Rules of Order, a tie vote means the motion fails, so if Gilmore had abstained, the request for a delay still would have failed.
On Monday, when the Denver City Council took up the contracts themselves, Gilmore voted yes to approve the contracts. That motion passed 10-3, with council members Rafael Espinoza, Paul Kashmann and Debbie Ortega voting no. If Gilmore had abstained, it would not have changed the outcome.
In public comments before her vote, Gilmore did not mention the ethics complaint but listed her long professional experience with water quality, natural resources management and environmental education. She emphasized that the project was not primarily a parks project.
“First and foremost, this is a stormwater management project,” she said. “We must deflect the flow of stormwater to detention ponds, and City Park Golf Course makes the most sense.”
Donohue said Scott Gilmore’s role with the park department and with the project creates enough conflict that Stacie Gilmore should have recused herself and abstained from voting.
From the complaint:
In his role as Deputy Executive Director, Parks and Recreation, in the Denver Parks and Recreation Department, Scott Gilmore has played a prominent and ongoing role in the City Park Golf Course project. He is a member of the Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) of the Platte to Park Hill Project and has served as a spokesperson for the Platte to Parkhill Project. Mr. Gilmore has also attended meetings of the City Park Neighborhood Advisory Committee formed by Councilman Albus Brooks where he has advocated for the Golf Course project.
Scott Gilmore said that his job position normally would call for him to be involved in the Platte to Park Hill project, particularly with regards to City Park Golf Course, but because of his wife’s position on council, he’s avoided any involvement in planning or decision-making. He was at a community meeting, he said, where he did answer a question about the project, but he’s otherwise staying out of it.
“From the day I took this job six years ago, I have taken my ethics and my responsibility to this position quite seriously,” he said. “I have not been involved in the golf course project at all.”
As for being a member of the Executive Oversight Committee, “I get the emails,” he said. “I don’t go to the meetings. I am not involved in any decision-making.”
“I know that because of the project, individuals will look for different ways of moving their agendas forward, so I took myself out of the decision-making,” he continued.
The Board of Ethics will review the complaint and determine whether a public hearing is warranted. You can read the full complaint here.
This story has been updated to explain how an abstention from Gilmore would have affected the request for a delay and to include comments Gilmore made at City Council Monday evening.