In final act, Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher fires once more at mayor
Dennis Gallagher, Denver city auditor. (Denver Post file)
Moments before his 12-year run ended Monday, outgoing Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher fired a final missive in a recurring feud.
In a letter to Mayor Michael Hancock, Gallagher accused the city’s Department of Human Services of lying to his staff about the existence of documents and suggested the agency’s management intimidated those who cooperated with auditors.
“This is particularly outrageous given the absolutely abysmal record of DHS in fulfilling its obligations to its clients,” Gallagher wrote.
Hancock’s administration rejected the assertions, saying it provided the auditor’s office all the records requested but redacted personal information, such as names and medical information.
“The former auditor’s accusations, made with one foot out the door, are shameful. They’re inaccurate and politics at their worst,” Hancock spokeswoman Amber Miller said.
Gallagher, the outspoken city watchdog who is retiring after 44 years in various elected positions, made the letter public just before 11 a.m., minutes before his successor assumed the post and Hancock took the oath for his second term.
A second letter sent at the same time announced Gallagher withheld his signature on an agreement with the state’s transportation department to widen I-70 to 10 lanes through northeast Denver — a symbolic act to voice, once again, his objections to the project.
The auditor’s signature is required by city charter to validate the agreement, and Gallagher’s move pushes the decision to Tim O’Brien.
“I had a conscience problem with it, and I’ve passed it on to him,” Gallagher said after attending the inauguration ceremony.
O’Brien said he needs to review the transportation agreement before responding.
The push to force the city’s health department to disclose more information is part of a long-standing battle between Gallagher and Hancock’s administration that forced state lawmakers to intervene earlier this year.
The General Assembly approved a measure to require the county human services department to allow the auditor access to all records deemed necessary in the investigation.
However, the new law prohibited the disclosure of information that would violate federal privacy law.
O’Brien said he had no reason to believe DHS will not comply with the law. “The auditor has to deal in facts,” he said, questioning Gallagher’s letter.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Frank is a political reporter and craft beer columnist at The Denver Post. He covers the governor’s office, Colorado General Assembly, state government, campaigns and politics.
He joined the Post in 2014 from The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. A UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, Frank’s an avid Tar Heel fan. He traded North Carolina barbecue for Colorado skiing, but still wears bow ties and craves sweet tea.
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