Independent Ethics Commission investigation of Weld County Commissioner Julie Cozad is ongoing; Cozad’s appeal to Colorado Supreme Court denied | MyWindsorNow.com

Independent Ethics Commission investigation of Weld County Commissioner Julie Cozad is ongoing; Cozad’s appeal to Colorado Supreme Court denied

Tyler Silvy
tsilvy@greeleytribune.com

Julie Cozad

There's nothing standing between Weld County Commissioner Julie Cozad and punishment for unethical behavior aside from, perhaps, her innocence.

In a final attempt to stop the investigation by the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission into alleged unethical conduct, Cozad appealed the commission's ruling on jurisdiction to the Colorado Supreme Court.

That appeal was dismissed, and Cozad appeared Monday at the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, 1300 Broadway, Denver, as the commission discussed next steps.

Those steps mostly involve the ongoing investigation into a complaint first filed July 20, 2017, by Johnstown resident Ellen DeLorenzo.

Cozad was the chairwoman of the Board of Weld County Commissioners when she attended, along with her husband, a North Colorado Medical Center Foundation Dinner as a guest of Noble Energy in January 2017. DeLorenzo alleges Cozad's and her husband's seats cost $2,500 apiece, and despite Cozad's $150 payment for meals and $220 donation to the North Colorado Medical Center Foundation, DeLorenzo says Cozad still benefited financially.

That's because even regular seats at the fundraiser cost $275, and so the complaint alleges Cozad's contributions are at least $180 short of the minimum cost to attend, with a maximum obligation of $4,630 based on the estimated cost of seats at the Noble table.

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Cozad's main defense to date has been that the Independent Ethics Commission has no jurisdiction in the case. Citing Weld County's home rule status, Cozad, her lawyer, Weld County attorneys, the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties Incorporated have each argued Weld County's existing ethics rules mean the commission has no jurisdiction. The commission has disagreed, and Cozad's appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court was dismissed, meaning Cozad at this point will simply await the results of the commission's investigation.

If the commission finds Cozad guilty of ethical violations, namely the gift ban in the Colorado Constitution, it can fine Cozad up to twice the amount of money involved and issue a public ruling in the case.

In the meantime, Cozad has enlisted Weld County attorney Bruce Barker to represent her in the case, moving on from a private attorney. Cozad said it was a board decision made during a Feb. 26 work session.

Up next

The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission will meet next at 9 a.m. May 7 at the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, 1300 Broadway. The ethics complaint against Weld County Commissioner Julie Cozad is still under investigation, and it’s unclear when the commission will render a final decision in the case.