Purchases for DNC kept secret, even from city officials

Denver City Council members won’t get the chance to oversee or approve nearly half of the funds that are being used to pay for security measures for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in August, including money that is being used to purchase police equipment.

The Denver Post features a story today reporting that many items being purchased by the city with the $50 million in federal tax dollars designated for security at the convention will not go before the city council for approval, because the city representatives are only allowed to approve $50,000 or more for equipment purchases, or $500,000 or more for contracts, and many of the contracts and purchases do not meet those thresholds.

News that city officials would be left out of the purchasing process should be no news for readers of The Colorado Independent, where it was reported in April that agencies like the police department would be following regular city procurement policies when buying security equipment, which include the cash thresholds. Even city council representative Doug Linkhart, chair of the city’s safety committee, acknowledged at the time that there would be things even he didn’t know about with convention purchases.

Now Linkhart could be looking to change the cash threshold for equipment purchases in light of the recent secret convention buying, according to the Post’s article.

But who could have guessed that the equipment not being approved by the council would include almost half of the $50 million and fly under the council’s radar? That means millions are being spent on convention security in Denver without approval by representatives of city government and, by extrapolation, representatives of the Denver populace.

Although the reluctance of the police department to disclose equipment purchases for the convention to the public has sparked a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, it’s unlikely that any information relating to the purchases will be released before the convention.


Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.