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Colorado Springs city councilman censured, removed from committees, boards

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Posted at 6:31 PM, Jul 02, 2024

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs City Council voted to censure a councilman over comments he made during a meeting last week during a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The censure is a formal reprimand, it does not prevent Donelson from voting as a council member.

City Council also voted to remove Councilman Dave Donelson from his boards and committees.

Donelson served on multiple boards including the city’s planning commission and stormwater advisory committee.

The move by the council stems from last Tuesday’s meeting. Donelson asked the City Attorney Ben Bollinger about whether or not council members should disclose a conflict of interest prior to voting on a proposed development on the city’s westside.

Specifically, Donelson pointed out three council members received $2,500 in campaign donations from Weidner Property Management, the developer behind the project.

Donelson said he would later learn it was four council members: Lynette Crow-Iverson, David Leinweber, Brian Risley, and Michelle Talarico.

"I would definitely like to put this behind us and move on I think we will be able to do that next week but today we needed to take some action in response to what was done last week," Council Brian Risley said after Tuesday's vote.

“I do not want it to happen,” City Council President Randy Helms told News5 on Friday, he echoed that sentiment in Tuesday's meeting “but I also I have a responsibility as the president of the Colorado Springs City Council to abide by our policies and rules, which are very specific.”

“You cannot disparage a fellow council member for taking a different vote than you do, it's very clear about that. We want to develop an atmosphere of civility and we should act decent with one another,” Helms said.

During a news conference on Friday, Donelson made it clear he would not apologize. He maintained that position during Tuesday's meeting.

"I heard a lot of accusations and character, getting into my head and saying why I was doing things, what I did with the Weidner apartments- do you think the citizens of district 1 wouldn’t want their representatives to ask for a recusal, just ask would you recuse yourself?" Donelson said after Tuesday's vote.

Donelson said he looked into campaign finance reports before last Tuesday’s meeting after fellow council members did not vote to move forward on putting a building height limit question on the ballot. Council members said they felt his comments about campaign finance were retaliatory.

News5Investigates uncovered Donelson has voted on issues involving his own campaign donors.

In March of 2023, an ordinance was brought up in city council that would have shut down pet stores like “Pet City”. Donelson’s campaign finance shows he received a $500 donation from the co-owner of the store.

Donelson did not recuse himself for the vote.

When asked about it during Friday’s meeting, Donelson said he believed a pet store and a developer were different in scale.

“Looking back on it, you know, I would have to think about it, but if a citizen or another council member had said, Councilman Donelson you receive this donation, would you recuse yourself? Now, I think absolutely I would,” Donelson said.

Campaign donations are not considered a conflict of interest under the city’s code of ethics.


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