State ethics commission takes up debate about Eagle officials Florida trip
On Friday, April 10 the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission is slated to discuss the complaint filed against Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick and town board member Doug Seabury regarding the trip to Florida they made last fall to meet with Haymeadow developer Alan Cohen.
The discussion will happen during an executive session and the commissions April 10 agenda lists the item as a complaint update.
In January, the state ethics commission voted to investigate the Florida trip to determine if Kostick’s and Seabury’s actions violated Amendment 41 of the state Constitution. A formal complaint regarding the issue was filed by Eagle resident Mike Stevens and on Feb. 13, the commission voted that the issue was “non-frivolous” and notified the parties involved that an investigation would be conducted.
The subject of investigation is an Oct. 29 through Nov. 1 Florida trip Kostick and Seabury took with Seabury’s business associate Scott Scholsser to meet with Alan Cohen. Cohen is the owner and developer of the Haymeadow property in Eagle, a 660-acre parcel located just south of the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink. Haymeadow is approved for an 837-unit residential development. Scholsser is the newly designated local contact for the Haymeadow project.
Prior to the trip, the pair did not inform other town board members or town staff that they were headed to Florida to meet with Cohen. After news of the trip became public knowledge, the Eagle Town Board released a written statement on Nov. 17 addressing the issue, particularly because the $2,380 airfare cost represents a violation of Amendment 41. Amendment 41 prohibits town officials or staff from accepting gifts, including travel costs, in excess of $50.
Initially the town board said they would be paying the $2,380 as part of the December bills approval, but it reversed that decision after closer reading of Amendment 41. The board noted reimbursing Cohen for the costs associated with the trip would violate the Independent Ethics Commission Position Statement on travel and travel reimbursement. Kostick and Seabury subsequently said they would pay the airfare costs themselves, indicating they did so on Dec. 15.
As for other costs associated with the trip, Kostick and Seabury have said there were no other trip expenses because they stayed at a guest house on Cohen’s property, where they also dined during the stay.
When the commission voted in February to investigate the complaint, Seabury did not respond to a request for comment regarding the inquiry. Kostick released a statement saying he would fully cooperate with the commission’s efforts. Cohen, in a letter to the editor called the state querry a “petty witch hunt.”
“Maybe they didn’t follow the goofy, petty rules that they were unaware of, but they got me to believe in them and the town. Maybe we were both wrong. Give it a break, this is laughable,” stated Cohen’s letter.