Former Denver City Councilman Wayne New unloaded nearly half of his office’s annual budget in the 41 days between being defeated in a runoff election and leaving office.
According to documents obtained by Denverite, New spent over $116,000 — 45 percent of the $255,000 allocated annually to each Council district — between June 4 and July 15.
District 10, which New represented, spans Capitol Hill, Alamo Placita, Uptown, Cheesman Park, Cherry Creek, Congress Park, Country Club and Belcaro.
The largest chunk of money, $51,000, went to a nonprofit called Shield 616. Based in Colorado Springs, it’s focused on armoring law enforcement officers and firefighters. New told Denverite that the Denver Police Department was the sole beneficiary of that money.
On his way out of office, New also sent:
- $15,000 to the Congress Park Neighbors registered neighborhood organization, or RNO
- $13,772 to the Cheesman Park RNO
- $10,000 to the Cherry Creek East RNO
- $8,000 to Warren Village
- $5,000 to Metro Caring, an anti-hunger advocacy group
- $4,000 to St. Francis Center
- $4,000 to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
- $4,000 to Urban Peak Denver
“We’ve always done that,” New said in an interview, referring to donating excess cash to nonprofits. “Usually it’s been pretty significant. We do that every year. Every year I’ve been in office we have money that’s left over.”
One difference, according to City Councilman Chris Hinds, is that voters had already ousted New from office when he made the executive decisions.
“There isn’t any particular organization that I would specifically object to,” Hinds said about New’s donations. “Issue number one is he spent what amounts to half the year’s budget when he knew he wasn’t coming back. Number two, he spent a lot of money on three different (registered neighborhood organizations) where there are 23 RNOs and business improvement districts in District 10.
“It’s bad optics for us … not that they aren’t great organizations, but it has the implication that we are buying favor with Congress Park or the implication that we are shirking Capitol Hill United Neighbors.”
Another difference is the amount of money spent: The other four outgoing council members spent an average of about $10,500 in the same time period New spent over $116,000. The former councilman said he only had one staffer, so he had more funds to spare.
Hinds said the budget drain handcuffs his efforts as a freshman Council member.