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Monument feud tied to DA race in Castle Rock

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Monument Mayor Mitch LaKind Medium.jpeg
Posted at 7:38 PM, May 16, 2024

MONUMENT, Colorado — A political feud in the Town of Monument has ties to the Republican primary race for district attorney in the newly created 23rd Judicial District and could potentially impact an ongoing law license complaint.

State lawmakers split Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties away from Arapahoe County in the 18th Judicial District to create the 23rd.

Former 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler is challenged for the GOP nomination by lawyer Dagny Van Der Jagt.

Her husband, Grant Van Der Jagt, was hired by the Town of Monument Board of Trustees in December of 2022 to investigate allegations of electioneering during the town election in the previous months.

News 5 discovered through a Colorado Open Records Act request that more than $2,500 of town money paid for campaign materials in support of Ballot Question 2A, the Town's Home Rule Charter Amendment.

Van Der Jagt presented his findings at a Board of Trustees meeting in late December of 2022 where he concluded that the town violated campaign finance laws. He also said in the report he believed the charter amendment was unconstitutional because it created new Town Council Districts that violated state and federal gerrymandering laws.

Two of the winning Town Council candidates in that election also served on the home rule charter committee.

Shortly after the new council was sworn-in, they moved to disavow Van Der Jagt and his report. The new council then hired a second independent investigator who also found that campaign finance laws were broken, but determined the campaign committee acted appropriately by refunding the town's money.

The town council also lodged a formal complaint with the state against Van Der Jagt's law license claiming his report contained erroneous statements of fact and law.

LaKind called a news conference Thursday to address concerns about that law license complaint which is being investigated by the Colorado Supreme Court's Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (OARC.)

"The complaint lodged against attorneys associated with Starzynski Van Der Jagt law firm encompasses various allegations including breeches of confidentiality, intimidation of town's personnel, failure to meet minimum competence standards for attorneys, failures to recognize the Town of Monument as it's client," LaKind told reporters.

The law license complaint is still under review. So, News 5 asked LaKind why he wanted make an announcement today before the OARC finishes it's work.

"There was supposed to be a conclusion. They were prepared to file their complaint with the presiding officer and ... Mr. Van Der Jagt decided to change attorneys."

News 5 contacted Van Der Jagt who released a statement where he claimed that 90 percent of the allegations made against him have been dismissed by the OARC.

Neither Mr. or Mrs. Van Der Jagt has any current history of disciplinary action with the OARC.

Grant Van Der Jagt explained he needed to change attorneys because he was unaware the lawyer who was defending him was a coworker of Mr. Brauchler, his wife's political opponent.

Campaign finance disclosure show that attorney, Suzanne Taheri, and Mayor LaKind both donated to the Brauchler campaign.

Van Der Jagt's statement reads in part, "this clear conflict of interest was intentionally hidden from me and this has resulted in a serious concern about a mistrial by OARC for the remaining issues."

LaKind also addressed the ongoing ethics complaint lodged against him. He initially consulted a lawyer as a private citizen before filing the OARC complaint against Van Der Jagt. The Town Council authorized payment of LaKind's legal bills.

"The aforementioned complaint appears to be lodged in reprisal for the prior complaint filed by the Town to the OARC," LaKind said.

He then characterized the ethics complaint as being replete with unsubstantiated and demonstrably inaccurate assertions and led to a "nearly entire dismissal" by the IEC (Independent Ethics Committee.)

A representative from the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel told News 5 the Rules of Civil Procedure prevent them from disclosing pending matters.

Click here to view full video from Mayor LaKind's news conference.

Below is the complete statement from Grant Van Der Jagt in response.

I just watched Mitch LaKind's grand spectacle.

Mitch LaKind is now trying to use his position to electioneer and defame, which will certainly cost him more money to defend.

First, OARC already concluded it is dismissing most of the allegations it has reviewed. It has not processed what remains.

Second, it was confidential information that I obtained a new attorney to defend me from the spurious allegations. The only possible source was my prior attorney. The reason for the switch of attorneys is because I discovered that my prior attorney's law firm employed George Brauchler and currently and continuously has represented George Brauchler on related matters in direct conflict with my interests.

George Brauchler's law firm represented me and that is why he just transferred his license to his own law firm at a P.O. Box.

This clear conflict of interest was intentionally hidden from me and this has resulted in a serious concern about a mistrial by OARC for the remaining issues. Mitch LaKind decided he wasn't going to wait on OARC's decision, instead, he decided to defame me from his pulpit and determine as the judge, jury and executioner my penalty for what OARC was likely to dismiss. In his riff, he added more false claims. It is important to note that my prior attorney donated to George Brauchler's campaign and LaKind endorsed and donated to him as well.

George Brauchler has a history of engaging in conflicts of interest and abandoning his duties. He is currently facing allegations about disclosing Confidential information on the radio about his former client Lauren Boebert. And LaKind is also still under investigation for misappropriation of taxpayer funds.

The complaint was solely against my (Grant's) license.

The law firm was not named as a defendant. Starzynski Van Der Jagt is owned by Dagna Van Der Jagt. There are no complaints against the law firm nor Dagna Van Der Jagt.

Mitch LaKind is now trying to use his position to electioneer and defame.

The reason for the switch of attorneys is because I discovered my attorney's law firm employed George Brauchler and represents him. This is a clear conflict of interest that was hidden from me and has resulted in a serious concern about a mistrial.

If you look up either of our licenses at the Colorado Supreme Court both of us have no disciplinary history.

I'm a private citizen. I am not a public person nor a public issue. Mitch LaKind and the Town of Monument are trying to defame my personal and professional name, knowing the falsity of their statements. Government immunity will not protect them from suit. Most of what they have said is false. More than 90% of the allegations OARC already dismissed. OARC has made no statement about what remains or whether there will be any discipline.

The entire press release is based on no news and falsities extrapolated into a personal hit piece vendetta for my work as an investigator that found Mitch LaKind had violated several laws. The Town released the report, not me.

If there was anything "serious" and any merit to the allegations against me, it would have already resulted in discipline.

My wife is Dagny Van Der Jagt running to be the first DA for the 23rd Judicial district.

UPDATE May 19, 2024: The Brauchler Campaign disputes Mr. Van Der Jagt's assertion with respect to Congresswoman Boebert.
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