You weren't supposed to learn about the resignation of Ryan Broughton, whom Mayor Michael Hancock appointed to serve as the executive director of the Denver Office of Emergency Management, prior to the June 4 runoff election. The fact that Broughton would be stepping down on June 7 was only acknowledged after inquiries from Westword and at least one other local media organization, even though the resignation was tendered on May 13.
A spokesman for the mayor's office denies that the election had anything to do with not publicly revealing Broughton's resignation; while press releases are routinely issued for appointments, he says that's seldom the case when people leave jobs. He adds that the director's decision was based on "personal stuff" and notes that he picked his last day — but he also confirms that Broughton was the target of an official inquiry that remains open.
Although the mayor's rep stresses that this investigation wasn't the reason that Broughton chose to take his leave, he declines to provide any more details because the inquiry involves a personnel matter. However, knowledgeable sources tell Westword that the original grievance was filed by a female employee, and say that other women staffers also complained about Broughton.
Their complaints don't involve allegations of the sort of sexual harassment that's become a campaign issue, with mayoral challenger Jamie Giellis championing Denver police officer Leslie Branch-Wise, to whom Hancock has apologized for sending inappropriate texts during the 2011-2012 period when she worked on his security team. Rather, sources say that the accusations center on alleged gender bias and the creation of a hostile work environment.
Still, the last thing Hancock needs right now is to give voters another reason to cast a ballot for Giellis, who, if elected, would be the first female mayor in Denver's history. The cloud hanging over Broughton as he heads toward the exit certainly doesn't help in that regard.
We've reached out to Broughton, who has been largely out of the office for the past two weeks. When and if he gets back to us, we'll update this post.
The statement about his departure from Hancock's spokesperson reads: "Executive Director Broughton, who has served in this role since being appointed in December 2016, notified the city on May 13 that he was moving on to pursue other opportunities. His last day with the city will be June 7. Under Broughton’s leadership, the city has revamped its emergency management program, reconfigured the Emergency Operations Center, updated the city’s Emergency Operations Plan, and created a robust Community Preparedness Program. The city thanks him for his efforts to lead Denver’s emergency management efforts to cultivate safe, prepared, and resilient communities."
The release concludes: "Mayor Hancock has named Deputy Director Matthew Mueller, who has been with the office since 2009, to serve as interim Executive Director until a replacement is named following a search."
Update: This post has been updated to add information from the mayor's office about press release procedure for appointments and resignations.