An investigation has cleared Wheat Ridge City Councilman Davis Reinhart and City Manager Patrick Goff of any wrongdoing, stemming from a complaint dealing with the viewing and dissemination of sales tax receipts of individual businesses in town.
A 25-page report — which was authored by an outside attorney — was released to the Wheat Ridge City Council late last week and was made public during the council’s Sept. 9 meeting.
The investigation looked into Reinhart’s and Goff’s roles in the request and disclosure of sales tax information of businesses along the 38th Avenue Corridor. The report determined that Reinhart did not act wrongfully and that Goff “did not intend (to) or commit a willful violation (of city code).”
City Attorney Gerald Dahl concurred with the findings of the report and said in an email to council members that he did not believe further action was necessary.
However, changes to the city code pertaining to how sales tax receipts are disclosed in the future are expected to come, as a result of the investigation.
Reinhart was pleased with the report’s findings.
“I am grateful with the outcome of the investigation,” Reinhart, the District I council member, said after the meeting. “The report completely validates what I’ve stood by all along.”
The investigation was spurred by a complaint filed by Councilman Joey DeMott in late July. The District IV council member had expressed concern that Reinhart may have used sales-tax information of businesses along 38th Avenue, “to see if business owners had been telling the truth” about losing business as a result of the road diet that was put in place there a year ago.
The 38th Avenue road diet, which involved reducing lanes and revising parking spaces on 38th as part of the city’s revitalization, has received mixed reviews. Reinhart supports the road diet, while DeMott has been critical of its implementation.
Reinhart acknowledged to city officials in an email last month that he asked Goff for tax-revenue information of 38th Avenue businesses. But he also insisted in the same email that he was not singling out particular businesses in his request and that his sole intention in requesting the information was “to try to understand what types of businesses were being hurt by the road diet.”
The report, which was authored by Denver attorney Samuel J. Light, backs up Reinhart’s emailed statements.
“…I find Mr. Reinhart did not solicit in his request specific sales tax amounts for individual businesses on the corridor,” Light’s report reads.
Reinhart has also said that he shared the tax receipt information with no one, which the report’s findings also back.
Light’s report states that Goff provided Reinhart with more detailed information than what the councilman had requested. Goff said that he did so in an effort “to provide context,” and Light determined that Goff’s actions were not meant “in bad faith or based on improper motives.”
Reinhart — who expects a tough re-election battle this fall, in a four-way race that will include term-limited Mayor Jerry DiTullio — had largely been quiet on this issue prior to the Sept. 9 meeting, during which he thanked supporters who stood by him, “in the fact of falsehoods, hearsays and personal attacks.”
Afterward, he criticized DeMott’s public comments on the matter, which were made while the investigation was being conducted.
“I don’t resent that the issue was looked into,” Reinhart said. “I just think that Mr. DeMott owed me the courtesy to not challenge me publicly when I wasn’t in a position to respond. I expected the courtesy for people to wait for the facts.”
DeMott said afterward that “it was never his intention to have any charges pressed,” but rather he wanted to get clarity on who is entitled to obtain business tax receipts.
DeMott may end up getting that clarity. Dahl requested that the council allow him to draft an ordinance amending city code that deals with sales tax receipt disclosure. The council gave Dahl the OK and it will take up the matter at a future meeting.
“The fact is there was never anything in the code to address this,” DeMott said. “But as the city attorney said, we will address this in the future. We’re going to add something to the code to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”