Truden paid husband $6,000
Colleen Truden paid more than $6,000 to a company owned by her husband for computer consulting work performed over a six-week period this year, raising questions of whether the newly elected district attorney violated state public disclosure laws.The exact amount that Fred Truden was paid came to light yesterday, after Truden released computer-service related invoices, payroll and other office expenses in response to an open records request from Glenwood Springs attorney Sherry Caloia.At the same time that she authorized payment of $6,032.50 to Fred Truden’s company, Mediate It Inc., Colleen Truden also paid $6,350 to another company, DeskTop Consulting Inc., for what appears to be largely duplicative services. Truden also purchased a new, $22,000 computer server.”I was surprised by how much money was spent on computers,” Caloia said. She said the total amount spent on hardware, software and consulting was approximately $40,000. “I think the computer budget for that office is approximately $20,000 per year.”Caloia, a Democrat and prosecutor for the towns of Basalt and Carbondale, requested the information under the Colorado law known as the open records act, which requires government agencies to open their budgets and release other documents to the public on demand.Fred and Colleen Truden could not be reached for comment. The release comes after several weeks during which Truden avoided disclosing details of her husband’s relationship with her office. Fred Truden’s employment at his wife’s office came to light in an article published in The Aspen Times on April 21. When questioned about the situation by the Pitkin County commissioners on April 26, she replied, “My husband is not an employee on the payroll of the office of the district attorney.” But she added that “he does provide some services [in the office] and does some volunteer work.”During a May 2 meeting with the Garfield County commissioners, Truden clarified her husband’s business relationship with her office, explaining that he had been contracted as a computer consultant through his company, Mediate It Inc.Records of incorporation filed with the Colorado secretary of state’s office confirm that Mediate It Inc. is owned by Fredrick A. Truden of Glenwood Springs. The company was formed in May 2003.”She should have disclosed that she was going to hire her husband to the secretary of state or the county commissioners,” Caloia said. Caloia said state law requires elected officials to disclose any benefits they may accrue from the expenditure of funds they oversee.Caloia requested a list of all expediters from January through April 2005; copies of contracts for computing services; copies of invoices for architectural services regarding the potential remodel; and documentation concerning the issuance of an employee badge for Fred Truden. In a letter dated May 5, Robin Steffen, administrator for the 9th Judicial District Attorney, said Fred Truden never received an employee badge because he wasn’t a staff member. But with the letter were all the other documents requested by Caloia.They indicate Fred Truden was paid $50 an hour for work relating to hardware and software installation. Some of the services listed include software installation, perhaps in connection with Colleen Truden’s decision to switch her office from using Microsoft Word for word processing to WordPerfect, server installation, updating workstations, testing the computer security systems, laying cables, installing a new copier and moving furniture around the office.For February, Fred Truden charged the district attorney’s office $3,207.50 for 64.15 hours of work at $50 an hour. In March, he charged $2,825 for 72 hours of work – 31 hours at $25 an hour and 41 hours at $50 an hour.At the same time Fred Truden was working on the computer and office systems, a consultant from Glenwood Springs-based DeskTop Consulting was performing similar, sometimes identical tasks for $130 an hour.For instance, on Feb. 7, Fred Truden billed his wife’s office $100 for two hours for “server software installation”; on Feb. 8, DeskTop Consulting billed $260 for two hours to “begin server set up.”Fred Truden charged his wife’s office $537.50 for 10.5 hours of work performed over two days – “firewall connect conversion …” on Feb. 14, and “complete firewall conversion-initiate installation of Proliant Server.” DeskTop Consulting charged $1,680 for work on the firewall and server conversion Feb. 17, 18 and 21.The district attorney’s office appears to have been double-billed for other, more menial installation work as well. On March 9, DeskTop Consulting charged Truden’s office $260 for two items including the installation of a copier. On March 10, Fred Truden billed his wife’s office $87.50 for “Minolta Copier install.”Michael Wynn with DeskTop Publishing declined to explain the duplication. “Our company’s policy is that we don’t comment without our client’s permission,” he said. “We contacted our client and she requested that we not grant any interviews.”In addition to being paid for computing services, Fred Truden was the beneficiary of a campaign funds disbursement in January of more than $5,000, ostensibly for reimbursement of contributions. He had to repay the money after it was discovered he didn’t actually donate to his wife’s campaign. The reimbursement check was reissued to Colleen Truden, who had contributed to her own campaign.Caloia said yesterday that she has no plans to run for district attorney should Truden be recalled. But Caloia made it clear she would work to have Truden recalled if a petition to do so is circulated.
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