County hires ethics officer

Tammy Kranz
Posted 5/14/12

The Adams County Board of Commissioners has selected an independent ethics officer to look into any complaints by county employees and citizens of …

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County hires ethics officer


The Adams County Board of Commissioners has selected an independent ethics officer to look into any complaints by county employees and citizens of unethical conduct or suspicion of fraud.

The commissioners approved a three-year contract with Suzanne M. Dugan, an attorney with the firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, a firm with more than 65 attorneys and offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The contract is not to exceed a total of $100,000 annually. Her contract spells out an hourly pay of $472.50 to not exceed $50,000 annually, and flat fee services to not exceed $50,000 annually.

Dugan, who has more than 20 years of legal experience with a focus on ethics in government practices, will charge the county hourly wages when she reviews the county’s code of ethics and makes recommendations for revisions. The county and Dugan will negotiate a flat fee for services such as site visits and investigations into misconduct.

Her work for Adams County began with a site visit on April 24-25, said Ruth Kedzior, assistant county administrator.

“We did not contract with the ethics officer for a specific purpose or issue, but the Transparency Hotline is live and we will be promoting it (this week),” Kedzior said. “Her initial work will be determined by the activity of the hotline.”

Citizens and employees can call, email, report online or send by U.S. mail any suspicion they have that the county is involved in fraud, waste and abuse of county assets, as well as any questionable ethical practices. The Transparency Hotline number is 303-482-1609, and email is Complaints can be submitted online at and by mail to Colorado Independent Consultants Network LLC, Attn. ADCO Transparency Hotline, 8020 E. 29th Ave., Denver, CO 80238-2505.

In May 2011, the board adopted a package of resolutions designed to eliminate waste and prevent corruption.

“The board is committed to transforming this organization by conforming to best practices and creating a more open and transparent government,” said Chairman W. R. “Skip” Fischer. “We will restore the trust and confidence of the people we serve.”

The commissioners recently hired Colorado Independent Consultants Network LLC to conduct audits of its operations. That three-year contract is for $500,000.

Other ethics-reform initiatives the commissioners have approved include prohibiting county officials from doing private business with contractors, filing a lawsuit against Quality Paving to recover an about $9 million stolen from taxpayers, and exploring the possibility of expanding its board from three members to five.

“I sense a real commitment to ethics reform in Adams County, and I’m pleased to able to assist the county in their continuing efforts,” said Dugan. “Adams County has already made enormous progress on transparency.”

Another of Dugan’s duties will be to collaborate with Human Resources and the County Attorney’s Office to create and maintain a Code of Ethics Education Program.


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