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The Gillette City Council commissions a review of its own conduct after texts were leaked by an administrator


The Gillette City Council voted unanimously last week to commission an independent review of its own conduct as a transparency measure, to investigate allegations of potential wrongdoing, and for suggestions about how to improve its conduct moving forward.

This comes after former City Administrator Patrick Davidson sent an email in late December to members of the city council, the city clerk, and other unnamed individuals that included a lengthy series of text messages between himself and former mayor Louise Carter-King,who resigned on Jan. 6 over the messages. The review also aims todetermine if other wrongdoing occurred, such as violating open meeting laws.

“There are some allegations made by Mr. Davidson, and the city council thought it best in the interest of transparency so that they could know, and so that the broader public could know, what an independent third party thought of that,” said Gillette City Attorney Sean Brown.

The City of Cheyenne agreed to conduct the review. Michael O’Donnell, a former city attorney for the city and Donna Murray, former senior assistant attorney general, will have access to Gillette city documents, reports, interviewees, text messages, and other pertinent information to conduct the review. O’Donnell and Murray are being paid $250 and $150 per hour respectively, according to the Gillette News-Record.

The review aims to look at the actions of the current city council, not the former mayor.

“It is going back to the appointment of a new mayor,” Brown said. “That was primarily why it was limited to the current council members, because that appointment will come from the currently serving council members.”

The review is slated to cost the city up to $24,999 and should conclude in March, though Brown says the review’s time could change slightly from its original deadline.

“The contract has what I would call a ‘not to exceed date’ of March 1st,” Brown said. “It could take shorter than that. I suppose it could also take longer, depending on if that third party finds something else that they want to follow up on.”

Though finding out if any official wrongdoing took place is part of the review, Brown said transparency is the main objective.

“It’s all primarily related to transparency in two ways,” he said. “One, to either have this third party say ‘No, we don’t see anything wrong here,’ or two, ‘Yeah, we see something wrong, here’s what you can do better in the future.’”

The Gillette City Council is set to select a new mayor from one of the current councilors during a regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 1. Former council president Nathan McLeland is currently acting mayor until a replacement for Carter-King is formally installed.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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