Misinformation by County Treasurer and El Paso County PIO Proven During BoCC Meeting

July 29, 2014

Since July 22, 2014, much attention has been given by the County Commissioners, Treasurer’s Office and the local media about the Sheriff’s Office Civil Unit bank account, which the Treasurer’s Office says was not properly set up through their office and subsequently went unnoticed by them for several years and has been described as a “mystery account” by KRDO. 

In a media release provided by the Sheriff’s Office on July 23, information was provided concerning the history of the account and the fact the Treasurer’s Office has received monthly checks from the account for at least 20 years.  County Treasurer Bob Balink’s claim he was unaware of the account until 2013 only demonstrates his ignorance about the monthly transactions coming into his office; that responsibility rests with him.  Additionally, in an effort to reduce the growing balance in the account caused by the faulty computer software, large checks were issued to the Treasurer from the account and were hand delivered; these checks date back to 2011.

Also, emails dating back to August 2011 exist between the Sheriff’s Office comptroller and Division Manager of El Paso County Budget Administration, Sherri Cassidy, as well as with Debbie Laney, also with EPC Budget Administration.  The emails clearly show the Civil account has existed for some time as Ms. Cassidy acknowledges it was before her time.  Ms. Laney acknowledges that although she doesn’t know details about the account she is aware monthly checks from the account are received.

See email string here: http://bit.ly/1rNzt8Y

In a July 23 media release distributed by El Paso County, and later reinforced during on-camera  interviews with County Public Information Officer Dave Rose, it was stated that when County Treasurer Bob Balink became aware of the account in June 2013, all county offices were contacted by the Chair of the County Commissioners as well as the Treasurer and reminded of the requirement to provide information on all bank accounts to the Treasurer’s Office; according to the information provided, all offices responded except the Sheriff’s Office.  The Sheriff’s Office has no record of such an email or request.  The alleged non-response from the Sheriff’s Office as reported by the County PIO was covered in several media broadcasts and included in their online content, which of course cast the perception the Sheriff’s Office does not cooperate or respond to the needs/requests of other county officials. 

Today’s BoCC meeting had an agenda item to address a proposed resolution to ensure all county accounts were set up through the Treasurer’s Office.  During discussion, the 4th Judicial District Attorney, Dan May offered his comments about the resolution.  His presentation revealed he too never received an email or notice from the Treasurer or County Commissioners asking for his list of accounts.  Following Dan May’s comments, Public Trustee Thomas Mowle indicated on the record he never received such notice either. On July 23, thinking there was a chance I overlooked it in my inbox, I sent an email to the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, Dennis Hisey asking he provide the email in question and have yet to get a response.

Also during today’s BoCC meeting, and specifically near the 2:08:52 time stamp into the meeting, Commissioner Littleton alleged that even though annual audits had been done each year regarding Sheriff’s Office finances, there were items they were not notified of, citing a lack of transparency.  I challenge Commissioner Littleton to provide specific examples to support her claim.  The public needs to be made aware that the Sheriff’s Office has historically and will continue to follow all county procurement guidelines and budget requirements as dictated by county policy. Therefore, any lack of transparency as insinuated by Commissioner Littleton would also rest with the county budget office.

It’s unfortunate misinformation was distributed by El Paso County and I hope any releases or public information they provide in the future which concern my Office would include only facts.

-Sheriff Terry Maketa

MR 14-046