DIA Honchos Discouraged Appeal Following Security Breach
DENVER (CBS4)– Several top Denver International Airport administrators apparently discouraged Mayoral appointee Heather Barry from initiating an appeal after the DIA executive and Mayoral appointee was caught trying to bypass security earlier this month.
TSA employees stopped Barry on February 3 after she bypassed security checkpoints by using an employee portal as she attempted to get to a flight.
The employee portals do not have metal detectors and other security measures and are only to be used by DIA employees on official business within the airport.
Barry, DIA’s Director of Government Affairs and External Relations, was with her daughter and was on personal business. She and her daughter were stopped, and made to go through security before being allowed to board their plane.
As a result of the security breach, Barry’s airport badge and DIA clearance were suspended for six months. After CBS4 broke the story, Barry apologized and indicated she would accept her punishment.
But a series of behind-the-scenes emails obtained by CBS4, show Barry was interested in appealing her 180 day suspension; an idea frowned upon by airport manager Kim Day and other top officials.
On February 9, a week after the security breach, Eric Hiraga, Chief of Staff at DIA and a Deputy Aviation Manager, emailed Manager of Aviation Kim Day.
“Heather mentioned the possibility of appealing,” wrote Hiraga. ”At this point, I think we advise Heather to stand down.”
Day sent Hiraga a one word response, “Agreed.”
Barry did not appeal her suspension.
The emails also show that an outside PR consultant paid by DIA, Mark Eddy, was instrumental in deciding who said what in the wake of the security breach.
In an email to Hiraga and a DIA spokesperson, Eddy wrote,”… we haven’t been able to connect today and I am heading into a couple of meetings. Below is some messaging that might be appropriate.
I made a mistake, there are no excuses. I am deeply sorry and accept the consequences. It was a stupid mistake and it won’t be repeated.
For Kim (Day)
Heather made a mistake. She was in a hurry with a small child but that is no excuse. Thousands of passengers face that situation every day. We have (talk about actions taken). Heather is a good employee and an extremely valuable worker on behalf of airport and city. This mistake is not indicative of her judgment. She admits she made a mistake and will accept the consequences…”
Eric Hiraga later emailed the PR consultant, Mark Eddy, writing, “In addition, HB (Heather Barry) should make the statement that she will not appeal the penalty.
Also, we should prepare a response for Mayor/Janice (Janice Sinden, Mayor’s Chief of Staff)/Evan(Evan Dreyer, Deputy Chief of Staff), since HB is an appointee. Can you work on that?”
On February 14, after the story broke, Heather Barry released a statement saying, ”I made a big mistake and used an employee- access door at the airport for non- business use. I’m working to ensure as little disruption to my team and to my work as possible. The punishment I received is to have my airport badge suspended for six months, which is in- line with what others have received for similar violations. I’m sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and I can assure you that it will never happen again.”
CBS4 also requested all text messages to or from Aviation Manager Kim Day related to the Barry incident, but DIA attorney Kevin Cain wrote that, “With respect to text messages, I presented your question to the Manager of Aviation and she has advised me that she does not have any responsive records.”
Airport officials say Heather Barry will continue to work on DIA business but at a non-airport location until her six month suspension is over.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com