Buchanan: `Only political points were to be had…'


Tim Buchanan, the Town of Elbert-based consultant in the middle of the Fair Campaign Practices Act complaint filed by Jill Duvall, was paid $15,000 by the county to help educate voters regarding a proposed mill levy increase.

Buchanan, who testified at the Dec. 13 hearing before administrative judge Robert Spencer, billed the county an additional $2,000 for the time involved in testifying. “I was called as an expert witness,” said Buchanan. “This was someone taking my time and that's how I make my living.”

In a statement emailed to the Elbert County News on Jan. 24, Buchanan stated: “The recent administrative judge's ruling and the ongoing political wars of Elbert County still have produced no real benefits for the citizens. The judge clearly stated in his ruling that the commissioners `intended to comply with the FCPA and to act in the best interest of their county.' I was at the hearing and the witnesses Ms. Duvall produced all stated that nothing was ever said about voting for the mill levy, but in their `opinion' they `felt' it was the object of the town hall meetings, (which is) hardly strong evidence.

“For all the complaints about me being paid for consulting, I was also surprised Ms. Duvall's attorney made it a point to ask the judge if he could order the county to pay for Ms. Duvall's legal expenses. It was nice to know Duvall was OK with having the taxpayers fund her covert political maneuvering while she was accusing the commissioners of the same thing. The election was lost, so obviously only political points were to be had from bringing the complaint.”

Buchanan added that if Duvall's goal “was to ensure that all things concerning the business of the county be `by the book,' why wasn't she one of the first to oppose the judge's punitive action against Commissioner Rowland? In his opinion, the judge accused Rowland of individually being responsible for making the decision to hire me. Ms. Duvall knew it was a unanimous decision of the commissioners in an open meeting…

“The only thing that the recent events have taught us is that nothing has changed. Things are still bad in the county and the political players only see these events as opportunities to score points. I think we are all tired of the political fighting and hysterics,” he concluded.


3 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Once again, The ECN goes out of its way to report the story of Robert Rowland being fined in a court of law for his breaking the campaign laws of Colorado in a manner that suggests that the judgement was in err. It is important to note that if you parse all of the articles involving Mr. Rowland of late, the tone is one that suggests there is fierce partisanship that is driving a movement to discredit the commissioner. What the paper fails to point out and Buchanan omits is that there is a growing discontent among county conservatives and independents toward the antics of Commissioners Rowland and Schlegel. The last time I checked, misconduct by a government official does not have a litmus test of political affiliation. Wrong is wrong no matter which party is involved. There are still many questions to be answered about whether the appeals process and just why private citizens must foot the bill for Rowland's rehash of the facts of the case. If the Elbert County News wants to add legitimacy to their claim that they are a news outlet and not just an extension of the Elbert County BOCC, perhaps they should print the ruling by the ALJ. One compliment is due to the ECN on this story. To their credit, we did not have to look at Robert Rowland's giant glam shot as we have on the last few stories involving the commissioner. Kudos

Sunday, January 26, 2014 | Report this

A more diligent reporter might have asked Mr. Buchanan whether he was paid from county funds for the time he took to communicate with the ECN. Such a reporter would also have sought a comment from Ms. Duvall. Finally, our hypothetically diligent reporter would have contrasted Mr. Buchanan’s statement with the content of Judge Spencer’s written decision. Anyone wishing to read the decision can find a link to it at the bottom of this article on the New Plains web site: http://www.new-plains.com/Archives/RowlandGuilty.html Mr. Buchanan implies that the judge based his ruling on what he calls the “opinion” of witnesses. According to the written decision, witnesses testified that “the overriding theme of the town hall meetings was that the county was in dire financial straits” and that “because the witnesses knew that the BOCC” had placed the mill levy increase on the ballot they viewed the town hall meetings as “a sales pitch.” The Judge’s job was to ascertain whether, given the totality of the circumstances, this was a reasonable inference for the witnesses to draw. That’s what fact finders do in evidentary hearings. That said, witness testimony was not the sole basis on which Judge Spence based his ruling. In concluding that ”the preponderance of the credible evidence is convincing” that the meetings were an expenditure of public money to support the mill levy increase the judge also looked at documents including communications with Buchanan, a BOCC resolution, Buchanan’s invoices, and the fact that the meetings were all scheduled for the month preceding the election . Buchanan also characterizes Ms. Duvall’s effort to hold the BOCC and Rowland accountable for unlawful conduct of engaging in “covert political maneuvering”. There was nothing covert about the hearing. It was held in the open, and anyone could attend. The only political maneuvering here is Buchanan’s transparent spinning.

Monday, January 27, 2014 | Report this

Mr. Buchanan actually billed Elbert County taxpayers an additional $2615.00 for his testimony.....and this was after county attorney Alex Beltz contacted Buchanan to ascertain if a subpoena was necessary (had Mr. Buchanan been subpoenaed, the county would not have had to pay for his testimony; he would have been court ordered to testify). Mr. Buchanan told the attorney that a subpoena was unnecessary....and subsequently billed the county for charges that could have been avoided. ( Mr. Buchanan even billed the county $105.00 for his phone conversation with the county attorney!!!!) Unfortunately, the ECN reporter, George Lurie, continues to fail to report on the many pieces of evidence that were presented at the hearing, I emailed a copy of the judge's decision to Mr. Lurie on the day the decision was handed down. Mr. Buchanan also neglects to mention these many pieces is evidence: that he billed the county for "mill levy consulting," that he failed to present both sides of the financial picture as required by law when using public funds, that he wrote a letter to a local newspaper advocating passage of the mill levy while under contract to the county, the questionable timing of these town hall meetings...the list goes on; but obviously the judge agreed that there was adequate evidence to prove misuse of county funds. Mr. Buchanan's contract contains an indemnification clause that protects the county from "any liability which may arise as a result of the consultant's performance." Mr. Buchanan, honor your contract and refund your fees to the taxpayers of Elbert County. The judge ruled that the commissioners misused public funds.....now you do the honorable thing and return the money you received back to the county.

Monday, January 27, 2014 | Report this