Former Weld Clerk and Recorder employee suing, running for election against old boss |

Former Weld Clerk and Recorder employee suing, running for election against old boss

Tyler Silvy

On the same day former Weld County Clerk and Recorder's Office employee Elisa Kunkel announced a run for clerk and recorder against her old boss, Kunkel had her old boss served with a federal lawsuit.

Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes is being sued in U.S. District Court, with Kunkel alleging retaliation, due process violations and First Amendment violations centering on Koppes' decision to demote Kunkel and move Kunkel to a different office.

Koppes is being represented by Weld County, and Kunkel has retained Robert Liechty, a Greenwood Village attorney.

Koppes said she's not concerned about the lawsuit, adding that she can't comment on specifics.

"We are just sorting out what the plan is moving forward," Koppes said. "I haven't had full meetings with the county attorney at this time."

Kunkel worked in the Weld County Clerk and Recorder's Office for more than 16 years, starting in 2000, and including two years in management. But within a year of Koppes taking office in January 2015, problems started.

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A series of events led to Kunkel's demotion, a successful appeal of that demotion, a Kunkel-backed request to audit the clerk's office, Koppes' decision to move Kunkel to an office 30 miles away from Greeley and, eventually, Kunkel being reassigned to the county's planning and zoning department.

Kunkel announced Tuesday she would run for clerk and recorder in the 2018 election. That same day, Koppes was served with the lawsuit.

Koppes said she welcomes the challenge. "I know we have done a lot of good under my administration," Koppes said. "If that's what she desires to do, that's fine. I'll campaign on my skills and accomplishments, and we'll see how it turns out."

In a phone interview Wednesday, Kunkel said the timing was a coincidence, saying she has been looking for an attorney after first being demoted, and it took some time to find somebody who would take the case.

In her lawsuit, Kunkel said she won an appeal after being demoted following a heated exchange with another clerk's office employee, but alleges Koppes, out of spite, did not return Kunkel to a management-level position despite being forced to pay Kunkel at her former rate as a manager.

Further, Kunkel alleges Koppes retaliated against her by reassigning her to the county's Del Camino office from the Greeley office on the same day The Greeley Tribune reported Kunkel had requested a county oversight board audit the Clerk and Recorder's Office.

Kunkel alleges First Amendment violations centering on Kunkel's complaints to the oversight board, the Weld County Council.

She alleges a deprivation of rights based on a poor performance review she was given in summer 2016, saying it was the result of Kunkel's successful appeal of her demotion.

Finally, Kunkel alleges retaliation as a result of exercising her right to petition government for redress of grievances.

Koppes' actions are described as willful, wanton and Kunkel's lawsuit accuses the clerk of reckless indifference.

Kunkel said Wednesday she loved working at the Clerk and Recorder's Office, and she said she wishes things would have been handled toward the end of her tenure.

Kunkel is requesting interest, costs, attorney's fees and any other relief the court deems proper, according to the lawsuit.

"I'm just using the courts to right a wrong," Kunkel said. "The issue is a matter of public concern. That's all I have to say on that."

— Tyler Silvy covers government and politics for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at Connect with him at or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.

The campaign

Elisa Kunkel announced she is running for Weld County Clerk and Recorder in 2018. Kunkel will run as a Republican, setting the stage for a potential primary showdown with fellow Republican Koppes, who was elected November 2014. Kunkel will try to get on the ballot during the March 6 Republican caucus process, but could also petition onto the ballot for the June primary if she doesn’t get enough support during the caucus process.

Read Kunkel’s announcement here.

Read Koppes’ announcement here.