Mulcahy offer: Let me support charities and keep my house | AspenTimes.com

Mulcahy offer: Let me support charities and keep my house

A $20,000 donation to the Aspen Homeless Shelter, a $10,000 donation to the Arlington Life Shelter in Texas, a $20,000 donation to the Africa Water Wells charity in Texas, and 500 hours of community service at Habitat for Humanity.

At first blush that might appear as a philanthropist's charity portfolio, but instead it is a settlement agreement Lee Mulcahy has proposed to the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority in a last-ditch effort to keep his worker-housing unit at Burlingame Ranch.

The authority's board of directors will entertain the matter during a closed-door discussion at its Feb. 7 meeting, APCHA attorney Tom Smith said Wednesday.

Smith said the executive session is legally permitted because it involves attorney-client privileges. Mulcahy, who still resides at the home, has argued that the matter should be discussed in public.

The executive session will mark the latest development in the 25-month court feud between Mulcahy and APCHA, which so far has prevailed in its litigation to force Mulcahy to sell his home.

In September, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the Pitkin County District Court's decision in June 2016 that Mulcahy must sell his house because he ran afoul of APCHA eligibility rules. APCHA has said that Mulcahy is not eligible to keep his home because he hasn't worked full time in Pitkin County. APCHA, which originally filed suit against Mulcahy in December 2015, also has contended he has not used the home as his full-time residence.

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Mulcahy, who bought an undeveloped lot through the local government housing lottery for $150,000 in 2006, said his work as an artist makes him eligible to keep his home.

As general contractor, Mulcahy began work on his single-family home in March 2011 and finished the job in 2015, gaining a certificate of occupancy in March 2016.

He has since hired the prominent Denver law firm of Haddon, Morgan and Foreman PC in his legal fight with APCHA. U.S. News and World Report named it one of the "Best Law Firms" in 2014. The firm has represented the Ramsey family and Kobe Bryant and counts a number of white-collar concerns as clients.

Mulcahy said his mother is funding his legal representation, and she also is paying the bulk of the settlement offer to the nonprofits. Mulcahy said that $10,000 of his money was used to make an initial contribution to the Aspen Homeless Shelter.

"The rest of the resources is coming from my mom, who loves me," said Mulcahy, adding he hopes to be sacking groceries and clerking at City Market in the near future.

Sticking to his message, Mulcahy said APCHA has singled him out because he has been a persistent critic of local government and Aspen Skiing Co.

"We've been railroaded and this is a witch hunt," he said. "The city looks for easy prey, and I'm really easy."

Mulcahy ran for Aspen mayor in May, losing to incumbent Steve Skadron. Part of his campaign platform was to fire City Manager Steve Barwick.

Mulcahy's settlement offer, which is outlined in a Jan. 18-dated letter from attorney Norman Mueller to APCHA counsel Smith, asks that two housing board members recuse themselves from next month's executive session.

"From the information currently available," Mueller wrote, "it appears that Ron Erickson (chair of the APCHA board) should recuse himself, at least in part due to his close personal relationship with the city manager. As you no doubt know, in Mr. Mulcahy's mayoral campaign he proposed firing the city manager. We also request that Valerie Forbes recuse herself due to her demonstrated bias and personal animosity toward Mr. Mulcahy."

Smith said he did not believe the two should step down from the discussion.

"Based on what I know so far, no," he said. "I'm not aware of sufficient evidence to require their recusal."

Smith said the decision will rest with the board.

"If a settlement agreement is developed, it would be an agreement that would be in writing and be put on the agenda as a formal public action" at a later date, he said.

Smith added that "we'll discuss it and we'll discuss the pros and cons. It's not up to me."

Mulcahy has until Friday to file a writ of certiorari with the state's high court to see if it will hear the case. However, if APCHA does not force Mulcahy to sell his home, he will drop the matter, according Mueller's letter.

"As an attorney for APCHA, it's unusual," Smith said of Mulcahy's offer. "But it's going to be up to the board if it merits serious consideration or settlement of the case."

rcarroll@aspentimes.com