A number of politically related actions by Memorial seem “to violate the widely recognized prohibition against using public funds and assets for political purposes,” Paige said today in an e-mail to Kelly.
Here is the e-mail Paige sent to Kelly requesting the investigation:
A number of items came to my attention this weekend that again raise concerns about whether public resources are being improperly used for political purposes in regard to the Memorial ownership issue. These activities appear to me to violate the widely-recognized prohibition against using public funds and assets for political purposes. I ask that you to investigate the following matters and explain, citing the law, why they do or don’t constitute prohibited political activities.
I received calls over the weekend from several people about radio ads run during the CC hockey game – I didn’t hear them myself and don’t yet have a transcript — touting the potential change of Memorial ownership, which in my view became a political issue many months ago. I know you’ve said before that this won’t become a political issue, technically, until something is officially on the ballot, but I respectfully disagree with that analysis and think that leaves the door open to a lot of mischief. The PERA revelation momentarily sidetracked the effort to put an ownership question on the April ballot, but it’s been a political issue, in my view, since the commission recommendation was made. Plus, this council voted in support of putting the recommendation before voters – why wouldn’t that vote trigger the prohibition against politicking from taking effect?
The second item that came to my attention was a publication by Memorial of an election guide, which specifically references candidate positions on the ownership issue (and which misrepresented the position of the so-called Reform Team, according to Mr. Bruce). Alleged misrepresentations aside, I find it highly improper and irregular for a city-owned enterprise to be publishing any sort of election-related materials or “guide,” since I have always believed public entities should remain officially neutral on such matters. I might be wrong, but this seems not just inappropriate but unprecedented. Are you aware of any other instances in which city enterprises have published voter guides? What is your legal opinion on the propriety of doing so?
Finally, I was just provided a copy of an email — pasted below — that appears to have been sent to Memorial staff last Thursday or Friday, urging them to lobby state legislators against a bill that would amend the Hospital Transfer Act in a way that potentially benefits this city. The bill was introduced last Thursday from what I understand (though Memorial’s efforts to lobby against it predate that by weeks). This clearly constitutes lobbying, and the recruitment of public employee into lobbying, on what’s also clearly a political issue. I would ask that you investigate this matter and render a judgment on the legality/propriety of it as soon as possible.
Please also indicate which of these activities, if any, were cleared with your office before they were undertaken. And if you signed-off on them, I would appreciate knowing the details of those exchanges. Thanks in advance for your swift and diligent attention to these matters. And please give me a call if you need clarification on what I’m seeking.
Below is the Memorial email:
From Cari Davis
Today 01:19 PM
Subject: Urgent Legislative Issue–Your Help Needed!
We need your help with an important legislative issue!!! And we need it now!
Please consider contacting the five legislators listed below regarding
SB11-202, designed to change the Colorado Hospital Transfer Act! Note that
Sen. Cadman is the bill sponsor and a member of our local delegation.
This bill, if it passed, would make it so that monies from a sale of
Memorial could be used for ANY purpose, not just health care. We are
opposed to this legislation as we believe that any money generated from
patients should remain dedicated to health care.
Exercise your right to express your opinion with your legislators. Read the
bill (attached below), form an opinion, and express it with the Colorado
State Senate’s Local Government Committee (names, contact info below).
Thanks. We need your action now. AND….please tell your neighbors,
friends, co-workers about this so they can take action as well.
* * *
URGENT CALL TO ACTION
Legislative Action Alert: Colorado Hospital Transfer Act
Legislation aimed at changing the current Colorado Hospital Transfer Act
has been introduced into the Colorado Senate (SB11-202). We urge you to
contact the Senate Local Government Committee members (listed below),
asking them for a “no” vote on SB11-202.
The original intent of The Colorado Hospital Transfer Act was to ensure
that proceeds from any sale of a nonprofit hospital to a for-profit
organization would be reinvested to protect the health care needs of the
The current proposed legislation would change the law to allow the proceeds
from the sale of any county- or municipally-owned hospital to a for-profit
corporation to be siphoned off for any use approved by the voters.
This bill has profound implications for hospitals, health care and
communities throughout Colorado.
If this bill passes, and Memorial Health System is sold to a for-profit,
three key things happen:
1. An estimated 700 jobs currently in Memorial’s support services
departments could be eliminated.
2. Local decision-making on health care could be taken from the community.
3. Profits could leave our community, go to corporate, and be redistributed
throughout the for-profit system and/or to its shareholders/investors. This
means money paid by local patients for health care would leave our
Contact the following legislators now—Tell them that you are opposed to any
change in the Colorado Hospital Transfer Act and urge them to vote “no” on
Senator Cadman’s bill (SB11-202) to amend the Colorado Hospital Transfer
Senate Local Government Committee Contact information:
Chair Senator Joyce Foster
Capitol Telephone Number (303) 866-4875
Vice-Chair Senator Jeanne Nicholson
Capitol Telephone Number (303) 866-4873
Senator Dr. Irene Aguilar
Capitol Telephone Number (303) 866-4852
Senator Bill Cadman
Capital Telephone 303-866-2737
Senator Ellen Roberts
Capitol Telephone Number (303) 866-4884
Email Address: email@example.com
Group email distribution list, in case you’d like to send them a group
* * *