For Taxpayers, Lucius O’Dell Is No Pale Rider

Among the small mountain hamlets dotting the canyons and valleys across the Western Slope, it been a summer filled with  intrigue and gossip and conjecture.

A man no one has ever heard of, who’s not from around there, wants to review between three-to-five years’ worth of e-mails that have been sent and received and deleted by five county commissioners – four Democrats and a Green Party officeholder – stretching across three counties.

None of them appears to have actually spoken to the stranger, name of Lucius “Luke” O’Dell – and he hasn’t responded to a multitude of media requests, including from Colorado Confidential, seeking an explanation for his interest in Western Slope government business. O’Dell, who lives in Fort Collins, is asking for thousands of pages of documents – tens of thousands, maybe. He’s indicated in letters that he’s simply testing Colorado’s open records laws. But others suspect he’s on a politically-motivated fishing expedition.

In at least in one county, O’Dell, along with his Arvada-based lawyer, former Republican state Representative Barry Arrington, is now accusing officials of treating him with contempt and trying to hide something – and is threatening to sue.

The first letter was addressed June 6 and arrived in the office of the San Miguel County attorney’s office five days later. The request, filed under Colorado’s Open Records Act (CORA), was seeking electronic copies of every single e-mail correspondence that Commissioner Art Goodtimes had sent, received, both saved and deleted, between Jan. 1, 2002 and June 1, 2007.

Similar letters, from O’Dell, were also sent to the county seats in neighboring Garfield and Gunnison counties, seeking copies of several years’ worth of e-mails of all three members of the Gunnison County Board of Commissioners, as well as one Garfield County Commissioner, Tr

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