Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission on Monday tossed out a complaint alleging former Secretary of State Wayne Williams misused state funds while in office, at the request of the man who filed it.
Denver patent attorney Tyler J. Boschert requested the complaint originally filed with the commission in October be dismissed. He filed a joint request with Williams to dismiss the matter earlier this month.
The commission’s executive director, Dino Ioannides, confirmed to Denverite that the panel voted unanimously to scrap the complaint during their meeting on Monday.
Boschert told CPR News last Friday there were a couple of reasons he wanted it tossed, including acknowledging that the commission didn’t have the power to hear some of the allegations, which was partially due to the statute of limitations.
The complaint included allegations that Williams misused state funds when he paid for attorney fees. Boschert said a majority of the allegations in his original complaint had been thrown out as the investigation progressed, leading him to drop the complaint altogether.
“I think that was the biggest reason, was that the allegations that the commission — that were left after the commission threw out some of the ones that I allege — didn’t seem serious enough to warrant the expenditure of resources either by me or by the attorney general’s office or frankly by the commission itself,” Boschert said.
The commission voted in November to move forward with the investigation, deeming the complaint “non-frivolous” and giving Williams and his office a chance to respond.
Williams, a Republican, served as Secretary of State from 2015 to 2019. He lost his reelection bid to Democrat Jena Griswold in 2018 and was elected to an at-large seat at the Colorado Springs City Council in April 2019.
The complaint includes fees and dues paid in 2017 and 2018. On Monday, he said expenses like the attorney’s fees had already been approved by the state auditor.
“I’m gratified that the IEC dismissed the complaint and I believe that in all instances, we followed office policies,” Williams said over the phone.
Former Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert submitted the secretary office’s response in December. She noted a majority of the allegations in the initial complaint fell outside the commission’s statute of limitations, including some cowboy apparel purchases made in 2015 and 2016.
Staiert noted that it has “long been the department’s practice” to pay dues for employee’s memberships in organizations, with the practice dating back to at least 2000. She noted in her response this helps retain and recruit good employees and maintain good performance standards.
Boschert said he didn’t disagree strongly enough with this line of reasoning to continue pursuing his complaint.
“I think the state certainly does have an interest,” Boschert said. “I won’t deny that the state has an interest in attracting talented professionals, attracting people with expertise.”
Staiert said the fees mentioned in the complaint and investigated by the commission included $325 for attorney registration fees, $430 in Colorado Bar Association dues and $20 for a continuing legal education course.