- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The Colorado Springs Ethics Commission is investigating whether City Councilwoman Helen Collins took part in a property deal to help anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce avoid paying nearly $7,600 to the city.

Collins, who also is facing a recall election, had little to say about the complaint from the city attorney’s office. The commission released it after an open-records request by the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper (https://tinyurl.com/p4t9hw2 ).

“They can do whatever they want,” she said Thursday. “It’s based on the recall. It’s ‘make Helen look bad.’”

The city’s ethics code requires officials to avoid activities that conflict with their duties and responsibilities.

Bruce criticized the attempt to unseat Collins over complaints about her performance, but he declined to discuss specifics of the property agreement.

In December, three residents launched a recall effort against Collins, citing concerns about her opposition to a November ballot measure to fund a regional stormwater initiative. A separate group, Colorado Springs Government Watch, complained that Collins is too closely tied to Bruce.

The council placed the recall question on the April 7 municipal ballot after the city clerk said enough valid petition signatures were turned in.

At issue in the ethics investigation is a real estate transaction in which Bruce transferred ownership of a southwest side condominium to Collins on Dec. 4.

He had sued the city in August 2013, alleging misconduct, and lost the legal battle a year later. A judge ordered him to pay $7,569.61 to cover city expenses for the trial.

The day before the city issued a lien on Bruce’s real estate, he transferred ownership of the three-bedroom condo to Collins “in consideration of the sum of $10 and other good and valuable consideration.”

Collins later sold the property for $140,000.

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Information from: The Gazette, https://www.gazette.com

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