AG’s private-meeting invitation irks some SW Colorado public officials

From The Colorado Independent: At the peak of the Animas River crisis, Cynthia Coffman reached out to the Durango City Council and La Plata County Commission and invited each member to dinner. But several of her would-be guests didn’t appreciate what the state Attorney General planned to serve up.

Some are blasting Coffman for ignoring Colorado’s open meetings law. As the state’s top law enforcement official, they say, she should have known better than to try to gather them together in a closed meeting.

“Talk about awkward – being asked by the attorney general herself to violate the law,” Mayor Dean Brookie told The Colorado Independent. “We were all pretty taken aback that she would have created that situation.”

Others were irritated by what they saw as Coffman’s attempt to exploit the disaster playing out in the river that is their community’s lifeblood. Coffman’s dinner meeting — which she cancelled because of a travel delay — was meant to rally local support for a politically motivated lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for accidentally releasing toxic orange mine waste into the Animas.

“It started to appear very likely that this was going to be a political step rather than a stateswoman-like step by the Attorney General,” Durango Councilman Dick White said of the dinner meeting. “There’s a suspicion that she was playing politics at a time when nobody needed her coming down to play politics in the middle of our local emergency.

“Partisan politics had no place in this situation.”

Coffman refused comment about the criticisms, which mark the latest in a string of controversies about her using the state’s massive Department of Law as a Republican and anti-Obama bully pulpit.

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