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Mayor Michael Hancock Rejects Ethics Complaint Over Thanksgiving Travel

DENVER (CBS4) - Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has told Denver's Board of Ethics his out-of-town trip last Thanksgiving was "a mistake" but not a violation of the city ethics code, and he says the citizen complaint lodged against him "seems to rely on incorrect facts and/or assumptions." Hancock's letter to the ethics board comes after Denver resident Tonia Wilson filed an ethics complaint against the Mayor over his travel to another state during the 2020 holiday.

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Wilson said the mayor's actions were unethical and showed him "abusing his office for his own benefit and for the benefit of his immediate family members."

Wilson told CBS4 she filed the ethics complaint "because so many Denver residents, including myself, were angered by the hypocrisy of our Mayor's actions."

The ethics board voted 5-0 to seek a formal response from the mayor. A copy of the mayor's response was obtained by CBS4.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock addresses demonstrators gathered at Civic Center Park in Denver on June 3, 2020, who were protesting the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while while being arrested and pinned to the ground by the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. (credit: JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images)

In it, Hancock wrote: "I regret my decision to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a mistake for which I have taken responsibility and apologized to the people of Denver, and while it has been alleged that my conduct somehow violated Denver's Ethics Code, the complaint seems to rely on incorrect facts and/or assumptions."

The letter did not spell out what the mayor views as incorrect facts or assumptions.

He went on to say: "It is true that the Denver Police Department security detail drove me to the airport and picked me up on my return but this level of security for a sitting Mayor is consistent 'with the DPD operations manual 'and has been the norm for previous mayors.'"

Hancock wrote that the security detail did not go with him on the actual trip 'and that no City and County of Denver resources were used in booking the trip. I made all of the travel arrangements myself.'"

The ethics board next meets on Feb. 17 and is expected to consider the ethics complaint.

The mayor's trip to visit his daughter in Mississippi over Thanksgiving came at the same time he was publicly urging Denver residents not to travel.

"Stay home as much as you can", tweeted Hancock. "Avoid travel if you can."

He boarded a flight an hour later.

(credit: DIA)

Wilson said she is unclear on what the Mayor views as incorrect facts/assumptions.

"Overall, I find the Mayor's response ... to be weak at best," said Wilson.

"Apologizing when he got caught does not make up for the fact that he risked the lives of others for his own personal benefit."

Contacted Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson for Hancock declined to further elaborate on the mayor's response to the ethics board.

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