Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Former Colorado Springs councilman cleared in ethics probe

By Monica Mendoza Updated: July 9, 2013 at 7:04 am 0

Former Colorado Springs City Council member Tim Leigh did not violate the city's ethics code, an independent ethics commission found.

The City Council agreed.

On Monday, the council unanimously accepted the commission's recommendation that the city take no further action.

"I am obviously relieved to get this behind me," Leigh said. "It is what I expected. I know I never did anything wrong."

In November, Leigh was accused by David Neumann, president and chairman of Neumann Systems Group, of violating the city's ethics code. Neumann Systems Group has a $73.5 million contract with Colorado Springs Utilities to install an emissions scrubbing system at the Martin Drake power plant. Neumann said Leigh, while on city council and the Colorado Springs Utilities board, repeatedly made false statements about his company and his emissions scrubbing technology, which damaged the company's reputation, its ability to obtain financing and its future business prospects.

Further, Neumann accused Leigh of trying to broker a deal between Neumann Systems and South Dakota investors for his own financial gain.

In April, Leigh lost his bid for reelection. However, the ethics commission, which met for the first time on this issue in January, continued its investigation.

The city decided that Leigh's public statements were covered as free speech. However, the commission looked into three allegations that Leigh sought "personal gain through a Utilities vendor; had a conflict of interest based on direct or indirect financial interests in downtown properties affected by Drake closure; and engaged in activities that may create or does create the appearance of impropriety."

Monday, the ethics commission issued an 11-page report and said there was no evidence that Leigh tried to make money off a deal between Neumann and South Dakota investors.

The City Council agreed to release the commission's report to the public. Neumann, reached by phone, declined to comment but said the company was interested in seeing the report and the confidential data gathered by the commission.

"After we see that, we'll go from there," he said.

In April, Neumann sent Leigh a letter with three options for Leigh to consider before Neumann filed legal proceedings: a public retraction of false statements; a public apology; or payment of $5 million in damages to Neumann Systems Group. Leigh declined to comment on the letter.

Over the course of the investigation, Leigh met with the commission, which also reviewed dozens of documents and interviewed four others including, Neumann, according to its report.

Leigh also was accused of being reimbursed $1,302 by the city for a personal trip to South Dakota. The commission found on evidence of fraud or abuse.

The city council, however, directed the city auditor to review the city's reimbursement policy.

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Reporter Wayne Heilman contributed to this report.

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