The Brighton City Council on Monday night appointed a special prosecutor to probe the conduct of one of its council members for potential ethical or municipal code violations but then refused to identify which elected official it is having investigated.
The vote to hire the law firm of Wilson Williams LLP to “determine whether a council member has violated any municipal laws or ethical standards such that prosecution is warranted” was 8-0. The only council member who did not attend Monday’s meeting or vote on the resolution was Kris Jordinelli, who was censured by his colleagues last year following a disjointed rant he gave during a virtual council meeting — words he attributed to being under the influence of alcohol and medication.
Attempts to reach Jordinelli Monday night at several listed phone numbers and via email were unsuccessful.
Asked why Brighton City Council would hold a public meeting about the conduct of one its members but decline to name who that person was, Mayor Gregory Mills said: “I welcome transparency however because there is an active investigation I am being advised to not comment at this time.”
City spokeswoman Kristen Chernosky said after consulting with the city attorney, “we are unable to confirm the name of the council member while it is under investigation.”
The probe stems from an incident on Aug. 17 during which the unidentified council member was contacted by police who wanted to “discuss an incident” with him after he was “walked home with supervision from a city council meeting,” according to a memo attached to Monday’s special meeting. The council member was referred to in the memo by a male pronoun.
He allegedly told a Brighton police officer that “you don’t want to mess with me,” while “referencing his status as a city council member,” the memo states.
“Brighton police officers are employees of the city and subordinate to the city manager,” the memo reads. “Threats made to officers on scene could be considered an attempt to interfere with the performance of the officers’ responsibilities. Attempting to use your city council position for personal gain or advantage could be considered a violation of the municipal code of ethics.”
The Denver Post sent open records requests seeking the police report from the Aug. 17 incident to the city manager’s office and to the Brighton Police Department ahead of the meeting Monday but did not receive the report by end of day. It’s not clear why police were trying to contact the council member in the first place and why it took more than three months for the incident to come to light.
This is not the first time Brighton’s city council and top leadership have made headlines in recent years.
In September 2020, Brighton City Council censured Jordinelli for his behavior during a virtual council meeting — behavior so bizarre that his colleagues agreed to send someone to his house to check up on him. They cited conduct that is “inconsistent with the values and ideals of the Council or the City of Brighton.”
Jordinelli, who was elected to his seat in November 2019 and whose term runs until January 2024, said during that meeting that he grew up on a farm and “saw animals eat each other.”
“I had cops who were my buddies, and a cat will eat the brain of an old lady, so this conversation is just pissing me off,” he said during the meeting. “I may get recalled over it, and I don’t care.”
He later apologized for his comments.
While Jordinelli never faced recall, former Mayor Ken Kreutzer did. Kreutzer lost his seat two years ago after a movement against him blossomed following the Brighton council’s decision that summer to fire the city manager, who said at the time of his dismissal that he was being let go because he had discovered unnecessarily high water rates being charged to residents.
Last month, Brighton hired a new city manager following the resignation of Jane Bais DiSessa in early October, after she held the position for barely a year. Michael Martinez was named as her replacement.
And weeks after the Nov. 2 election, the composition of Brighton’s council is still not fully settled. Because none of the candidates running for mayor received a majority of support from voters, the two top vote-getters — Mills and Laurie D. Lozano Meier — will have to duel it out in a runoff election Dec. 7.