City Employees on Investigatory Leave Took Trip to Europe on Vendors' DimeEXPAND

City Employees on Investigatory Leave Took Trip to Europe on Vendors' Dime

Two longtime Denver Department of Public Works employees took a trip to Europe last year that was paid for by vendors that sell public-works equipment to the City of Denver. By allowing the vendors to pay for the trip, the two employees, who have been on leave since the beginning of May, may have violated Denver's code of ethics for city employees.

Kelly Duffy, Denver's director of streets maintenance, and Doug Legg, a Public Works manager, traveled to Germany and Italy in May 2018, using plane tickets and staying at hotels that were paid for by Italian companies courting the City of Denver. Following a recommendation from Legg, the city bought a street sweeper from one of the vendors.

It is a violation of the city's code of ethics for a city official to allow a company to pay for travel expenses and lodging if the employee will be negotiating contracts with or recommending purchases from that vendor.

The city covered Duffy and Legg's meals while they were traveling.

Denver's human resources department acknowledges that Duffy and Legg are being investigated by an outside firm, but declined to comment further. Public Works notes that the investigation by the outside firm is not tied to the trip, but that the department is taking its own "close look" at the trip and the subsequent purchase of the street sweeper.

"We are looking now at the trip more closely. We want to determine if all city processes were followed," says department spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn.

The trip lasted from May 16 to May 22. In a travel request filed by Duffy in April 2018, she and Legg wrote that they would be attending the IFAT conference in Munich, which describes itself as "the world's leading trade fair for water, sewage, waste and raw materials management." Duffy and Legg said that they would be meeting with two Italian vendors, Dulevo and Giletta, to "discuss and see products," and noted that Dulevo builds street sweepers for Denver.

The travel request form only includes information about attending a conference in Germany. Kuhn says that the department's executive director, Eulois Cleckley, was aware that airfare and lodging weren't being covered by the city.

During the same European trip, however, Legg and Duffy traveled to Italy. While there, they visited the factories of Dulevo and Giletta. Dulevo manufactures electric street sweepers, while Giletta makes "technologically advanced snow removal equipment," according to Kuhn.

"The Giletta/Tenco company covered the majority of the travel costs. Dulevo covered one night in a hotel before the Dulevo factory tour," Kuhn wrote in an email to Westword.

After Legg and Duffy returned from their trip, Dulevo brought one of its electric sweepers to Denver so the city could "evaluate its performance."

According to Public Works, Denver eventually purchased an all-electric sweeper from Dulevo that is being used to sweep bike lanes. "We were (and may still be) the first in the U.S. to have one," Kuhn wrote.

Prior to the purchase of the street sweeper, Legg sent a letter to Denver recommending it as the best option among small, all-electric street sweepers, adding that its parts would be interchangeable with parts from other street sweepers, since Denver already buys from Dulevo.

In addition to placing Legg and Duffy on investigatory leave, the city also took their laptops.

In August 2010, Legg received a written reprimand from the city for an alleged altercation with another city employee. Duffy has no disciplinary issues in her file.

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