In an appearance Thursday on KFKA 1310-AM’s Northern Colorado’s Morning News, Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway responded to the release of a report investigating claims by several people from different agencies in Weld County who accused Conway of creating a hostile work environment.
Conway told the show’s host, Chad Peterson, that he will not resign, and complained that the Greeley Tribune had not run his op-ed response to a Tribune editorial from March 9, calling for his resignation.
A week before the publication of the Tribune editorial, Weld District Court Judge Todd Taylor had reviewed the 157-page investigative report by Mountain States Employers Council and ruled in Conway’s favor, stating that the county commissioner’s actions did not substantiate the complaints against Mr. Conway. The Greeley Tribune wrote about Judge Taylor’s finding in an article from March 2.
In the opening paragraph of their editorial, the Greeley Tribune points out that Conway’s attorney pushed to keep the investigative report from the public and other Weld County commissioners.
On the radio, Petersen gave Conway a chance to respond to the allegations, the report, the ruling, and the Tribune editorial:
PETERSON: Glad to have you on the radio with us. We missed you last month, and threw you under the bus a little bit. But only –.
CONWAY: That’s fine. I deserve it. Did you back up, and roll over, and back up and roll over?
PETERSON: No! We didn’t go back and forth. I thought that we were very even-handed in how we –
CONWAY: Oh, that’s fine.
PETERSON: The concern was that we hadn’t heard from you. But we also knew – and so we ought to address, right away – there’s some amount of controversy surrounding the – all of the Weld County commissioners. In particular, the Greeley Tribune has said that they think you should resign. So, I’ll give you the floor. Let’s talk about it.
CONWAY: Well, you’re going to have breaking news, here, in regards to the Greeley Tribune.
CONWAY: I have submitted an op-ed in response to that editorial which ran last week. Unfortunately, the Tribune has not run it. I’m not sure if they will run it. That’s up — that’s their prerogative. It’s their paper. They can choose to run whatever. I’ll go through, if you would like, in terms of what they talked about. First and foremost, I am not resigning. So, that is the first time, I think, I’ve been able to publicly say that. I believe that their editorial is filled with, um — it’s a parsing of the report. It’s 157-page report. Let me just state this: the county put this before a judge. A judge reviewed all 157 pages, and deemed that I did not create a hostile work environment; that there were six complaints against me. One of the complaints, the individual — through the evidence that I provided in my response to the report from text messages that were provided to me by another employee, just proved her to be false — inaccurate — and proved her complaint to basically be a lie. Two others the investigator deemed to be not be credible. She interviewed them. She said, “There’s nothing here.” Two others, who cited their supervisor as a witness to the events, the supervisor directly contradicted their accounts and said, “No. That did not happen.” There was one individual –where there were two issues involving, one, a 55-second phone call in November and one event back in 2014 which quite frankly, I had no recollection of until this this whole issue came up. Let me just say, I bring these facts forward not to in any way shape or form take away any responsibility by me, for any of my actions in terms of this. And for those – you know me to be a passionate person. Um, I’m a little loud. I come from a big Irish Catholic family and that’s how we communicated. And that doesn’t excuse things. I have apologized for anything that I may have done to put people in an uncomfortable position or do something that they felt crossed the line. But the fact remains, is that I’m more interested in moving on. And I’ve told my fellow commissioners that. I take ownership of those issues that might have created the current climate among the board. We do have a rift. There’s no doubt about that. But I would hope that all of us can act in a professional manner. I’ve told my fellow commissioners that, you know, we — there are a lot of people that go to work every day and they don’t like their coworkers. But they figure out, for the betterment of the entity they work in, to move forward and do things. And that’s where I’m at, right now. […] And I plan, as I said in my editorial — if it ever gets run, you can read about it — I plan on working hard over the next three years and nine months, God willing, for the residents of Weld County. I think to resign would be a disservice to my family, my friends, and quite frankly, the more than 80,000 voters that [elected me] last November, while all this was swirling around. Some of this was out there in the public domain so the voters had an opportunity to think and talk about this. I think it would be a disservice — to resign — for them. And I have no intention of resigning. I’m going to move forward. I’m going to work hard. I’ve asked my fellow commissioners to join me in working for the betterment [of], I think, what Weld County residents want. And that is to produce the best county government, not only in Colorado, but in the country. […] Well, I just want your listeners to know that, moving forward, I’m going to do everything I can with my fellow commissioners to make sure we act in a professional manner, that we focus on what we should be focusing on. And that’s not the ‘who’, but the ‘what’. And the ‘what’ is we have got a lot of good things happening in Weld County and we need to focus on those and get those done. And a lot of transportation, which I know you want to get to.
Conway has recently begun his third four-year term as county commissioner. His tenure has been somewhat high profile, since he led the charge in 2013 on a ballot initiative which would allow rural voters to decide whether to secede from the state of Colorado and form a new 51st state. Conway and supporters of that defeated initiative cited unfavorable legislation (gun laws and renewable energy standards, among other laws) as constituting a “war on rural Colorado” by the Colorado General Assembly.