If a City Council member, appointee or some other Colorado Springs official gets hit with an allegation of an ethics violation that's heard by the city's Independent Ethics Commission, the city will pay for up to $10,000 in legal expenses — as long as the accused is "completely exonerated." If not, that city official or appointee will be on the hook personally.
That consensus was reached by Council in a closed executive session Monday and announced by President Scott Hente. Council will vote formally on the matter April 9.
The policy applies to Council members, appointees, members of boards, committees and commissions, and the mayor. Legal expenses exceeding $10,000 can be submitted for consideration by Council, which could approve additional costs. Council's word is final and cannot be appealed.
The resolution, if approved, will be retroactive to pertain to the alleged violations of Councilman Tim Leigh, which are currently under investigation by the Ethics Commission. Leigh has been accused by David Neumann, president of Neumann Systems Group, of seeking personal gain through his company (a city contractor), and of having a conflict of interest related to the political question of whether the downtown Martin Drake Power Plant should be shuttered. NSG's coal-scrubbing technology could extend the life of the plant; Leigh, a commercial real estate broker, represents some downtown property owners who ostensibly would stand to gain from new development in that area.