The public’s right to know | AspenTimes.com

The public’s right to know

Dear Editor:

The Aspen Election Commission exists to ensure fair, reliable and accurate elections for all citizens and candidates. Since May, the commission acted contrary to its role, was wrongly influenced to act outside the public process and took steps to cause doubt about the integrity of the election, the legitimacy of the City Council, and the competence, objectivity and reputations of the city clerk, Kathryn Koch, and city attorney, John Worcester.

I recently alleged the Aspen Election Commission allowed Marilyn Marks to manipulate it from behind the scenes and become the de facto chair of the commission to the exclusion of the actual chair, Kathryn Koch. This exclusion from all meetings and important decisions went on for months. I alleged the commission, mainly through the actions of Marks’ business partner and campaign treasurer, Elizabeth Milias, acted at Marks’ instigation to possibly misuse public funds to seek legal counsel independent of the city attorney and an “independent” election auditor to achieve her goal of voiding, through the courts, the election she lost in May. Voiding an election long after the contest or recount period had passed. The Election Commission set upon this course outside of public knowledge or any discussion in public.

I came to make these allegations of wrongdoing based on public documents because I was suspicious of public statements made by commission members. This record, still incomplete, is full of evidence of private meetings and communications initiated by Marks and Milias in flagrant violation of the Colorado Open Meetings Law. Worse, there is evidence of large gaps in the public record because Milias, a public official, has not complied with the Open Records Act.

I compiled a list of missing material that runs to three pages and there is likely more missing. There are missing exchanges between Milias and Frieda Wallison, chair of the Pitkin County Republican Party, and Paul Menter, finance director of the Aspen Community Foundation, about official election commission business, among others. Milias is obligated as a public official to maintain and produce these records when requested. She refuses to do so.

I support the least intrusive method for filling in the gaps in the public record created by Milias’ refusal to comply with the law. Milias can produce the records voluntarily or the city should step in and compel Milias to fulfill her obligations as a public official. These are not Milias’ documents; they belong to the public and the public deserves to be able to review them fully.

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An explanation of what I think happened is available online at http://www.grassrootstv.org, select “Grassroots Video Now,” search “election,” select “Aspen Election Commission Allegations.” Michael Conniff has kindly agreed to post all the documents in date order on his website “Aspen Post” at http://www.aspenpost.net.

Jack Johnson

Aspen

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