(Rule 1: always mention the cash — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney John Kellner, the Colorado GOP’s lone candidate for attorney general, faces an ethics complaint for his decision not to charge a former Douglas County undersheriff and campaign donor with misconduct despite a finding of probable cause by investigators.
The misconduct in question involves Kluth’s directing an employee to delete sensitive records from her personnel file prior to running for Douglas County sheriff.
Kellner’s decision not to file charges was first reported by 9News last month.
“Based on a thorough review of the investigative findings in this case, we have probable cause to believe Holly Nicholson-Kluth committed the crime of Official Misconduct in the First Degree and Official Misconduct in the Second Degree,” reads the JeffCo Sheriff case report. “These acts were all found to have been committed in 2019 during Nicholson-Kluth’s tenure with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, specifically while she was serving in the capacity of Undersheriff.”
The ethics complaint filed with the state’s Independent Ethics Committee (IEC) by progressive advocacy group ProgressNow Colorado notes that former Undersheriff Holly Kluth, made two donations totaling $350 to Kellner’s DA campaign in 2020. Colorado law caps the maximum contribution to a non-statewide campaign at $400, the lowest amount in the nation.
“I submitted a letter this morning to the Colorado Supreme Court requesting an investigation of District Attorney John Kellner, for violating the rules of professional conduct as well as for prosecutorial misconduct for his failure to disclose his conflicts of interest when he refused to prosecute his high-profile campaign donor,” stated Sara Loflin, Executive Director of ProgressNow Colorado.
Loflin’s complaint raises the previously unreported issue of campaign donations from Kluth, whose intention to run for Douglas County sheriff was already public at the time of the investigation, to Kellner, who was already running to replace his term-limited boss, George Brauchler, as DA for the Eighteen District.
Kellner’s office gave two reasons for dealing to charge Kluth: First it noted that the statute of limitations had already expired, given that the alleged crimes took place in April 2019 and that circumstances needed to invoke the “discovery” exception to the time limit don’t exist. Secondly, it assessed the evidence to be “insufficient to support a reasonable likelihood of success at trial.”