DENVER (CBS4)– The challenger to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in next month’s runoff election goes on attack against the incumbent. Jamie Giellis says there is a culture of sexual harassment in city hall that is out of control.

“We need leadership to end this poisonous culture,” said Giellis.

The runoff election is slated for June 4. In the past week, the race between the two candidates has heated up.

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First, Hancock released an ad accusing Giellis of being racially insensitive. Now, Giellis is hitting back.

On Tuesday she presented a chart detailing several sexual harassment settlements, totaling more than $500,000. The city’s attorney office says neither of the two settlements involved Hancock.

“He is guilty of sexual harassment. There’s been a settlement,” said Giellis.

The city attorney says that is not true. Hancock admitted to sending inappropriate text messages to a female police officer, who says she was paid to keep quiet. The city attorney says her settlement involved a different employee.

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Giellis said the real cost to taxpayers is likely much higher because of legal fees and demanded the mayor disclose that amount. She also believes there have been secret settlements but admits she has no evidence of that.

“I think there are likely settlements that have not been publicly disclosed. The true cost of the settlements to taxpayers during Michael Hancock’s administration is not fully known and I am demanding today that it be disclosed this week.”

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“I’m presenting the facts that we know and I’m asking the mayor to respond. If he can clarify that this is all there is and nothing more, if he will speak directly to it, I think this is an important conversation because it is taxpayer dollars that have been spent on something that could have much better been spent on something else. And shouldn’t the mayor and everybody else be held accountable for their own personal actions, costing us money,” said Giellis.

Giellis says if elected, she will implement several reforms, including making all sexual harassment settlements public.

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“As your mayor, I will be implementing ethics reforms to end a culture of sexual harassment in city hall that is out of control under Michael Hancock.”

She also says that she will require sexual harassers to reimburse the city for judgments. But the city attorney’s office says by law, only employers can be held liable, not individuals.

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Hancock released a statement saying he has been completely transparent about his sexual harassment settlement, including all of the costs. The city attorney also says the two sexual harassment settlements over the last eight years include legal fees.

Hancock’s office also sent CBS4 this statement: The Mayor’s Office and Department of Safety recently revised their discrimination, harassment and retaliation policies, and those policies contain robust prohibitions on sexual harassment, along with detailed procedures for reporting and investigating sexual harassment.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (credit: CBS)

Ballots were mailed to active voters on Monday. Voting centers open on May 28 and ballots must be received by June 4 at 7 p.m. at voting centers or in drop-off ballot boxes.

LINK: Denver Elections Division

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