Equipment manufacturers paid for an international trip taken in May 2018 by two high-ranking employees of Denver Public Works, an arrangement that may have violated the city’s ethics code.
Kelly Duffy, director of streets maintenance, and Doug Legg, a manager for the department, traveled to Germany and Italy in May 2018. This month, the pair were suspended for an unrelated investigation, according to city officials.
Duffy and Legg attended a conference and visited factories for two companies during the week-long trip, according to Denver Public Works spokesperson Nancy Kuhn.
One company, described as Giletta/Tenco, covered the majority of the travel costs for the duo, according to Kuhn. Another company, Dulevo, covered a night at a hotel.
The city code of ethics says it is a violation for employees to accept travel expenses and lodging if the employees control potential contracts with the donor. The city employees were interested in street sweepers and snow-clearing equipment sold by the companies.
“If the officer, employee or official is in a position to take direct official action, and we have an existing, ongoing or pending contract for whoever paid for the travel to Italy, it is a potential violation,” said Councilman Kevin Flynn, noting that he did not know the facts of the situation.
“I don’t know if they were in the direct official action line, but if they are, it would be a violation, unless they sought a waiver from the board of ethics,” he said.
The employees “did not seek advisement” from the city’s ethics board, according to Kuhn. A representative for the city’s ethics board wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Denver later paid about $221,000 for an electric street sweeper for bike lanes made by Dulevo, though the deal was finalized through a retailer. The purchase was a result of the meeting, according to Kuhn. Dulevo already was a vendor for the city’s street sweepers, according to expense reports filed for the trip.
It was not immediately clear whether the city subsequently purchased any of the Giletta brand of snow-clearing equipment.
Duffy and Legg reported no airfare, lodging or transportation expenses for the weeklong trip, though they filed for $1,378 in per diem expenses.
“We are looking to see if city processes were followed related to this trip,” Kuhn wrote in an email Friday. But the trip was not the cause of the investigation into the employees, she said.
Paperwork for the trips includes initials certifying that the travel complied with the ethics code regarding vendor funding.
In an earlier 2017 trip, the city paid $6,126 in airfare for Legg and another employee to inspect equipment in Italy. Westword first reported on the 2018 trip on Friday.
Legg and Duffy didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Friday.
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