DENVER (CBS4)– CBS4 has learned an ethics complaint was filed against Denver Manager of Safety Stephanie O’Malley based on what was revealed in a CBS4 Investigation earlier this month.
The President of the Denver Police Protective Association filed the complaint Wednesday accusing O’Malley of misusing confidential information when she notified a captain on the Denver fire department in October 2014 that he was the subject of ongoing complaints.
O’Malley sent a text message to Captain Harold Johnson, a friend of hers, which was viewed by CBS4.
”Hey..fyi,” read O’Malleys text message to Johnson,”some in the station are complaining to Eric (Tade- Denver’s Fire Chief) about you. Watch your back and be guarded with your tone- comments.”
Johnson told CBS4 he had been friends with O’Malley for several years and had been on at least one date. He said it was clear to him O’Malley was providing him with inside information that he was the subject of a pending investigation.
The complaints O’Malley told Johnson about evolved into a full-fledged investigation and he was fired within the last month for 13 rule violations.
In the ethics complaint filed by PPA President Nick Rogers, he wrote that “Director O’Malley possesses access to a large volume of confidential information regarding such members, including complaints about those members, ongoing investigations, and the status of those investigations. That information is confidential information that is not available to the public, and is, in fact, protected from disclosure by the City.”
The official complaint continues: “Director O’Malley did not keep that information confidential. Instead, Director O’Malley discreetly notified Captain Johnson of the investigation. In doing so, Director O’Malley violated Denver Ethics Rule 2-68- Use of Confidential Information. More importantly Director O’Malley impugned the integrity of the discipline process in her office be evidencing preferential treatment for some employees.”
Mayor Michael Hancock indicated at the time the CBS4 Investigation emerged that he saw no issue with what his Manager of Safety had done, “I trust that Stephanie conducted herself honestly and earnestly in this situation. Upon learning of the formal investigation of Mr. Johnson, she made their acquaintance known to the administration and recused herself from the decision- making process, which was the appropriate action to take.”
A spokesperson for O’Malley told CBS4 O’Malley was declining to be interviewed about the text alert she sent to Johnson.
In a statement, O’Malley wrote “The text I sent him last October occurred over five months in advance of the investigation and findings that led to this termination. At that time he was recently promoted to Captain and I wanted to raise his awareness that I had heard concerns about his conduct.”
The police union ethics complaint views things differently.
“O’Malley created a potentially chilling effect on future complainants, showing them that a complaint or concern brought to the Department of Safety in confidence may be shared with the subject of the complaint.”
The ethics complaint goes on to state that if a member of the Sheriff, Fire or Police department had tipped someone off with inside information, “that member would have been charged with violating departmental rules- and for good reason… The Executive Director of the Department of Safety should be held, at a minimum, to the same standard.”