Mulcahy claims conflict by Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, proposed receiver
Aspen resident Lee Mulcahy is contesting the local housing authority’s attempt to place a person in charge of selling his single-family home at Burlingame Ranch.
Mulcahy is defying a court order to sell his home. Now, he’s accusing the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority of engaging in a conflict of interest by seeking a judge’s permission to appoint Basalt attorney Tim Whitsitt as receiver to oversee the property’s listing and sale.
That’s because, alleges a motion written by Mulcahy’s attorney, Whitsitt previously worked with APCHA attorney Tom Smith when the two were employed by the Pitkin County Attorney’s Office. The motion asks the court to reject APCHA’s request to make Whitsitt the receiver; it also questions his experience in such work.
“Mulcahy is extremely weary of a receiver being appointed that has a personal relationship with Smith and where that receiver would have authority to negotiate and dispose of Mulcahy’s house and home,” says the motion, which Denver attorney Jordan Potter filed Aug. 16 on Mulcahy’s behalf. “At a minimum, Mulcahy should be entitled to ask Whitsitt questions about his relationship with Mr. Smith to ensure impartiality.”
APCHA has been trying, through the courts, to force Mulcahy to sell his home since December 2015, when it sued him for running afoul of the authority’s ownership requirements of working 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County. In June, Pitkin County District Judge Chris Seldin ordered Mulcahy to put his home on the market following a series of failed efforts by Mulcahy to have both the state and the United States supreme courts hear his case. Mulcahy has ignored the order so far, and most recently has been demonstrating against Seldin and others in front of the courthouse with signs accusing them of political corruption.
Smith could not be reached Monday. Whitsitt said he and Smith had previously worked together professionally for the county, but that relationship from the 1980s doesn’t constitute a conflict.
“You can’t deny we have a history and we worked together for five years in the county Attorney’s Office,” Whitsitt said. “But how that gets to a conflict confounds me.”
Mulcahy’s motion also questions APCHA’s plans to have Whitsitt sell the home for a maximum price of $995,000, arguing that setting a price “significantly affects Mulcahy’s property rights, is completely improper and APCHA falls well short of even establishing such caps are supported by the evidence on the record.”
Speaking during the public comments portion of the Aspen City Council meeting Monday, Mulcahy and his mother, Sandy, who lives with him, urged officeholders to give them a public hearing about their dispute with APCHA.
“I can tell you, we are not going to comply with an unjust order,” Lee Mulcahy told council members.
Whitsitt said he will follow the APCHA sales procedure if the court appoints him as receiver.
“I’ve got pretty thick skin about this,” he said, adding that, “I’m pretty confident some things will blow up and (Mulcahy) might say something about me, but I don’t see that it’s a controversial position or something that’s not beyond my ken.”
A pitch led by Theatre Aspen’s executive director to expand the organization’s facilities and create a permanent underground venue got mixed reviews from officeholders and board members Monday.
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