Ken Buck ethics complaint surfaces

People have been talking about a possible Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Buck for at least six years. But no one has offered any proof, and no one had publicly named the woman who filed — and settled — until today.

Today, The Denver Post published an article about the case in which it names Martha Eskesen as having filed a discrimination case against Buck while the two worked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

When he first ran for district attorney in Weld County in 2004, then-DA Al Dominguez asked both candidates for the job to release their personnel records. One agreed. One refused. Buck was the one who refused, saying such a move would compromise cases he had worked on and also violate the privacy of others.

The Greeley Tribune published three articles on the subject.

Here is a staff-written article explaining the controversy. Here is the article from candidate Tom Quammen, and here is the response from Ken Buck.

The Colorado Independent (TCI) called Eskesen for comment prior to The Post publishing her name. As soon as we identified ourselves — before we explained why we were calling — she said, “I’m not interested,” and hung up.

The Post reports the complaint was based on age discrimination and religious discrimination. Eskesen is Jewish. Sources have told TCI gender discrimination was also part of the complaint. The Post said the case was settled for an unknown amount. The Colorado Independent has two sources, neither of whom agreed to be named and neither of whom offered proof, that the settlement was in the very low six-figure range.

In recent weeks, the story had made its way into the blogosphere, with this post on Colorado Pols.

Friday, the Colorado Democratic Party issued this press release, and today the Post went public with the story.

DENVER – Ken Buck has spent the last three months trying to hide his extreme agenda, and he has spent the last 6 years trying to hide his record of misconduct and unethical behavior. Despite desperate and unfounded claims being made by Buck and his Republican allies, it is Ken Buck’s refusal to disclose several ethical misconduct violations that voters should be concerned about. With only a few days left before election day, Buck needs to come clean about his record and release federal records that he has been hiding from voters since his first election in 2004.

“Ken Buck isn’t just too extreme for Colorado, he’s flat out wrong for Colorado.” said Colorado Democratic Party Chair Pat Waak. “Ken Buck hasn’t just been hiding his extreme views, he’s been hiding records of his unethical misconduct and other professional issues that are deeply troubling and raise questions about whether he’s fit to hold any office – let alone Senator.”

When Buck ran for district attorney in 2004, the sitting District Attorney Al Dominguez called on Buck to disclose all of his records, including his personnel file at the U.S. Attorney’s office and any U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) records he might be party to. Buck refused. This summer, Buck’s misconduct in jeopardizing a case against an illegal gun dealer was revealed –- misconduct he had hid from Weld County voters for over six years despite calls for disclosure. Buck was reprimanded by Republican Attorney General John Suthers for his behavior. As a result of this transgression, Buck was forced to take ethics classes, making him the only Senate candidate unable to figure out ethical behavior for himself.

Thus far, other issues –- including allegations of a potential EEOC complaint involving Buck –- have remained hidden from voters, despite calls for him to disclose since 2004.

“Ken Buck’s failure to disclose this information, and his continued efforts to hide his misconduct from voters is extremely wrong and extremely unethical,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman Pat Waak. “Ken Buck needs to disclose all of these documents immediately. If he has nothing to hide, he should prove it. Unfortunately, he’s refused to disclose them since 2004.”

Buck has been dogged by other publicly discussed ethics lapses for months, including the well-known case where he leaked information to defendants in a case he was involved in that sabotaged the case. He ended up being formally reprimanded and left the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a result of that case, in which the defendants were big-time Republican donors.

Here is what Colorado Democratic Chair Pat Waak had to say about that case:

As assistant US Attorney, Ken Buck refused to prosecute a prominent Republican donor and activist for illegally selling cheap handguns linked to dozens of violent crimes in Denver. When other prosecutors took up the case, Buck leaked highly confidential information to the defense, sabotaging the prosecution and letting his political allies off the hook. Buck was subsequently investigated, found guilty of ethics violations, and subsequently left the office under a dark ethical cloud. Despite twice running for District Attorney of Weld County, Buck hid this serious ethical scandal from his constituents. Now, that same defendant who he let off the hook has contributed repeatedly to Buck’s senate campaign, raising serious questions about whether Ken Buck can be trusted to hold public office.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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