Commissioners on Monday made apologies on behalf of the county for involvement of its employees in creation and circulation of a list of local residents called "sovereign citizens."
The list, which came to include the names of 28 local people, was e-mailed last summer to a Grand Junction newspaper by a county employee.
The e-mail file had been named "wingnuts." A story about the "wingnuts" list later appeared in the paper.
Accounts differ of how the list came to be developed in the first place; about which county employees had access to it; and about which county departments it was distributed to.
The county's version is that the list was developed to help courthouse personnel deal with individuals who were challenging fees and other document filing procedures in the clerk and recorder's office.
One of the people on the list, Barbara Hulet, disputed the county's version at the BoCC meeting Monday where she received commissioners' apologies.
She said she has rarely used the clerk's document filing service and believes her name was added to the county list because of her educational activities on constitutional issues. The only documents she and her husband Tom have recorded are affidavits of live birth of their children, she said. Both their names are on those documents, but only Barbara's name appeared on the "sovereign citizens" list, she said.
According to county engineer Bob Kalenak, the county employee who provided the list to the Grand Junction newspaper in an e-mail file he called "wingnuts," he was first contacted by the Grand Junction paper and asked for the names.
Considering the list to be a public document, he said he compiled the names and e-mailed them to the paper. "I did not change the name (sovereign citizens) on the original file," he told the DCI. Kalenak said the Grand Junction paper wanted the information for a story it was developing on "sovereign citizens." The paper ran a front page story on the "wingnuts" list Sept. 3. That was the first time any of the Delta County Commissioners heard of the list.
It was also the first time the term "wingnuts" appeared. "That is the point where it gets serious," Hulet told the BoCC on Monday.
Hulet had been interviewed for that story. She and her husband immediately filed Open Records Act requests with the county to get the list and other information. They received a copy of the list and Kalenak's name. But other requests have not been fulfilled, Hulet said. Those requests include the date the list was first compiled; the name of the person who authorized its circulation through county government; the names of county employees involved in compiling the list; and other information.
The county has responded that the information either does not exist or is part of personnel records. Also, on Monday, Commissioner Doug Atchley told Hulet the board had directed that the "sovereign citizens" list be made to "disappear."
Atchley told Hulet, "The county profoundly apologizes to you for being named in that list. The commissioners didn't know about that list. It is not anything directed at you personally."
Commissioner Bruce Hovde apologized on behalf of the county also. He told Hulet that the county attorney had complied with her open records request as far as she can. "If we don't have (the documents) we can't provide them," he said.
Commissioner Olen Lund invited Hulet to review the commissioners' official meeting minutes for Monday and make sure all of her points and concerns were included on the record.
Hulet also explained to the BoCC on Monday that the term "sovereign citizens" has been misused. "Sovereign citizen is not a bad thing," she said pointing to its use in the Colorado Constitution as an example.
She said the county's "sovereign citizens" list episode is an example of "rogue government" that she opposes in her educational activities.blog comments powered by Disqus