Editorial: Records on candidate’s performance in county clerk’s office should be public

The Greeley Tribune: Today, a Weld District Court Judge will preside over a hearing to determine which records documenting Elisa Kunkel’s performance as a public employee in the Weld County Clerk and Recorder’s Office will be shared with the public.

The hearing came about because The Tribune sought the records after Kunkel made her performance as an employee of the office part of her campaign to serve as the next Weld County Clerk and Recorder. Her past at the office also is likely to be a key component of a lawsuit against current Weld County Clerk and Recorder Carly Koppes, Kunkel’s former employer. Kunkel now works for the Weld County Planning and Zoning Department.

It goes without saying we believe the records we’re seeking should be public. It is true the Colorado Open Records Act provides an exemption that allows government agencies to withhold information in an employee’s “personnel file.” However, courts have consistently defined that exemption narrowly, ruling records showing discipline imposed upon public employees and other records reflecting investigations into their on-duty official conduct are not part of the personnel file exemption.

Indeed, it’s just those kinds of records The Tribune is seeking to verify claims Kunkel made in her lawsuit and vet statements Kunkel made as part of her campaign for clerk and recorder.

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