The Denver City Attorney’s Office is investigating how details from a confidential phone call about a multi-million dollar DIA contract were leaked to a local TV news station. But the office isn’t saying whether the investigation could lead to disciplinary action for its employees.
City Attorney spokesperson Ryan Luby said Friday he would characterize this as an “inquiry” that’s “assessing a legal risk” for the city. He added that this step is unusual. He said the reason for the inquiry was leaked information from an Aug. 12 phone call, which included Mayor Michael Hancock, involving a confidential conversation about the contract’s termination. Luby said the city was planning on announcing the termination the following day. He referred to the Aug. 12 call as a “privileged” conversation.
CBS4 broke the story the next day, before the city made its formal announcement. Later that day, Hancock said during a formal announcement that the decision had been made “late last night,” referring to Aug. 12. CBS4 was also first to report Thursday that the city was investigating the leak.
Luby said this is not a “whistleblower” investigation. He denied that the investigation is about CBS4 or its reporter, Brian Maass.
“We have to asses the risk, we have to determine how something like this, confidential information, is being shared with who,” Luby said. He said the information was “sensitive” and had serious “ramifications” not only to the city but its partners.
Hancock spokesperson Theresa Marchetta said Friday that the mayor did not request the investigation.
“The Mayor fully supports the city attorney’s inquiry, under her legal obligation to identify how confidential, time-sensitive information was disclosed, which could pose legal risks for the City,” Hancock’s office said in a statement to Denverite on Friday.
When asked who has the authority to request such an “inquiry,” Luby said in an email that, “The City Attorney’s Office has a charter obligation and the authority to assess legal risks, which is exactly what the office is doing.”
Luby said he could not speak to any possible disciplinary action that may result from the inquiry.
CBS4 reported the investigation is looking into “about a dozen Hancock appointees” and requesting phone records from these employees. The records included calls and texts. Maass made a public records request to the City Attorney’s Office on Oct. 16 asking for proof the office had made the request to see staffers’ texts and calls. The letter sent in response to CBS4’s request included City Attorney Kristin Bronson’s name in the header.
Colorado Public Radio reported DIA terminated the $650 million contract with Greater Hall Partners for the main terminal remodel due to safety concerns and project management. Major delays in the project were announced this summer.
A DIA spokesperson asked questions related to the investigation be forwarded to the City Attorney’s office.