DEC Tech Chief Placed on Leave

Anthony Rainey, the Denver Election Commission technology chief who casually brushed off criticism of Denver’s voting problems, has been placed on “administrative investigative leave.”

The move comes after Mayor John Hickenlooper said his office’s attempts to help the election commission were rebuffed by Rainey. Hickenlooper said Rainey insisted the mayor’s office had no jurisdiction over the election commission. The mayor’s office has no hiring or firing power over election commission employees, but that wouldn’t have prohibited Rainey from accepting the mayor’s help.

A 2005 letter from a city council aide to Hickenlooper compaining about Rainey has also surfaced. The aide suggested Rainey wasn’t qualified to for the top tech job and said Rainey’s overbearing management style was driving away qualified employees. From today’s Denver Post:

City Council aide Lynn Pressnall said she hand-delivered a letter to Hickenlooper on March 1, 2005, detailing concerns about Rainey. Pressnall, who works for Councilwoman Johnson, said she took the action because she believed Rainey was unqualified to head the commission’s technology team and because she feared he was driving away qualified workers.

Pressnall said she had heard many complaints about Rainey’s management style as bullying and overly aggressive from employees of the commission, where Pressnall worked as a temporary employee in 2004.

She said that in 2004, she also crossed paths with Rainey. She recalled that he told her that if she had any complaints she should take them up with the commission’s executive director at that time, Karon Hatchett, who he said recruited him to the job because Hatchett knew him from her church.

Pressnall, in her letter to the mayor, criticized Rainey and detailed how Hatchett had recruited him, a “personal friend” from church, to work at the commission in 2004.

“Anthony Rainey has been elevated to a management position through a re-structuring,” the letter to Hickenlooper states. “He manages in much the same way as she does and has personally threatened employees. This has only compounded and exacerbated the problem. Additional long-term experienced employees are actively seeking other employment.”

Pressnall followed up with another e-mail to the mayor’s chief of staff, Cole Finegan, in August 2005.

The Rocky Mountain News lists concerns raised about Rainey:

March 1, 2005: Mayor John Hickenlooper handed a letter that warned that Anthony Rainey, chief of technology for the Denver Election Commission, had “personally threatened employees” and was driving employees to find jobs elsewhere.

Aug. 1, 2005: Same letter that was given to Hickenlooper is re-sent to his chief of staff, Cole Finegan.

June 1, 2006: Allegations about Rainey’s qualifications surface on the Internet. John Gaydeski, the election commission’s executive director, defends Rainey in a letter to Councilwoman Judy Montero. He said, “Anthony Rainey’s background is IT and he is an expert in that field.”

Nov. 2: Rainey has outburst while getting advice from a top city technology expert five days before the election.

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