Up-and-coming Aurora city councilman Ryan Frazier put his political career on the line by backing Amendment 47, the hugely controversial right-to-work ballot measure that failed in the polls last month. Among other political attacks, the 31-year-old Republican was the subject of an ominous television commercial questioning campaign contributions he received from Carollo Engineers the same day that he and other council members voted to award the engineering company a lucrative city contract. Now it turns out, however, that according to a recently completed investigation jointly run by the Adams County and Arapahoe County district attorney's offices (Aurora is located in both counties), Frazier did nothing wrong.
"There is no evidence that the receipt of the campaign contributions by the Frazier campaign was anything other than a coincidence," says Krista Flannigan, Adams County District Attorney spokeswoman. "This was a legitimately solicited contract, properly placed for bids and accepted by the city of Aurora with no evidence of impropriety."
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Colorado Ethics Watch, a nonprofit watchdog group, requested the investigation last April, not long before they placed Frazier on their annual list of Colorado's most corrupt public officials because of the contributions. A spokesperson for Colorado Ethics Watch couldn't be reached by the time of this dispatch, but Frazier, for one, is pleased with the findings. "I'm thankful that the DA offices have reviewed the matter and concluded there was no wrongdoing. I hope that organizations that make these types of complaints are courteous enough to have the facts to support the complaint," he says. "I mean, it was kind of like just throwing stuff against the wall and seeing if it sticks." -- Joel Warner
Update: When reached on the phone, Chantell Taylor, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, says she's happy with the results of the inquiry. "I was glad they took the investigation seriously, which is not always the case with district attorneys," she says, adding, "At the end of the day, [Frazier] could have avoided all this taxpayer expense by being forthright in the first instance, responding openly to open record requests [that were sent to him inquiring about the contributions]. And not taking the contributions, frankly. The appearance of impropriety alone was reason enough not to take the contributions."
In other words, she doesn't regret her organization placing Frazier on its list of most corrupt politicians. "Because an investigation was conducted, there appears not to be criminal activity, but I think it was absolutely justified to put him on last year's list," she says. "It wasn't prudent of him to take the contributions, and I would say he was not acting open and transparent. He could have resolved it by just being forthright."