EDITORIAL: Rod Proffitt and His Friends, Part One

It’s been a tough couple of years for the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD), with issues concerning an “inappropriate” contract, an oath of office, misrepresentations to the court, violations of the Colorado Open Meetings Law (COML), questionable executive sessions, and appointments to the board…

— Pagosa Springs SUN, December 28, 2018

For a tense few days, it appeared that the taxpayer-funded San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) Board of Directors was going to hire their former Board President, Rod Proffitt, to become the well-paid “General Manager” for the District.

Mr. Proffitt — convicted felon, disgraced Planning Director for Archuleta County, community activist, unsuccessful Board of County Commissioners candidate — had been accepting regular payments from the SJWCD Board under an illegal contract, for the past five or six years.

SJWCD President Rod Proffitt, center, during his unsuccessful campaign for Archuleta County Commissioner. Also shown, on left, candidate Steve Wadley and on right, candidate Morgan Murri.

Last summer, we wrote here in the Daily Post about a Colorado law — CRS 37-45-115 — that prohibits a water conservancy board member from signing a contract with the district they serve as a volunteer. The law requires a board member to file an oath, swearing that they will abide by this limitation:

(1) Before entering upon his official duties each director shall take and subscribe to an oath before an officer authorized to administer oaths that he will support the constitutions of the United States and of the state of Colorado and will honestly, faithfully, and impartially perform the duties of his office and that he will not be interested directly or indirectly in any contract let by said district, which oath shall be filed in the office of the clerk of said court in the original case.

You can download Mr. Proffitt’s sworn oath, from 2013, here. As we can see, Mr. Proffitt fulfilled our Colorado law that required him to swear an oath of office… but he then proceeded to ignore his own sworn oath.  Mr. Proffitt has, in fact, been receiving regular payments from SJWCD under a services contract, since 2012.

This would seem to constitute a criminal act, on the part of Mr. Proffitt.  They usually call it “perjury.”

We understand that Mr. Proffitt may in fact be under investigation by the Colorado Attorney General’s office.

During those same years of illegal payments, Mr. Proffitt arranged to populate the SJWCD Board of Directors with personal friends who were seemingly happy to hand out taxpayer revenues to their friend Rod Proffitt under his illegal services contract.  Not only was Mr. Proffitt acting in a possibly criminal fashion — it’s possible the entire SJWCD Board was engaged in the illegal use of public funds.

According to an October 12 editorial in the weekly Pagosa Springs SUN, written by editor Terri House:

The district paid Proffitt over $73,000 between February of 2015 and July of 2017 as a result of his services agreement. During that time, Proffitt received an additional $12,904 of the taxpayers’ money for travel expenses.

The district’s current counsel recommended doing away with these service agreements. The board, including Proffitt, voted unanimously in agreement.

Now the board is looking to hire a general manager. Proffitt drew up a draft job description for SJWCD’s consideration. Prior to that, Proffitt wrote in an email to SUN staff, “… so I will probably apply for the GM position when it comes up, and will resign from the board to take that position if it is offered to me.”

According to that GM contract, apparently written by Mr. Proffitt himself and approved by the SJWCD Board on January 4, 2018, the General Manager would be an independent contractor, and would be paid $50 per hour plus travel expenses.

From the proposed “Agreement” for the GM position sent to the SJWCD Board on January 3:

5. COMPENSATION

It is anticipated by the Parties that the Contractor will travel around the state and region in performance of the Services or will participate in meetings and other activities. In consideration of the Services to be performed pursuant to this Agreement, the Principal agrees to pay the Contractor at a rate of $50 per hour of Services performed. Contractor shall account for the time spent in performance of the Services and provide invoices to the Principal prior to payment of compensation The Principal shall also reimburse the Contractor for other direct costs, such as travel, registration fees, training, etc. Such costs must be approved in advance by the Board and the Contractor shall submit an invoice and receipts documenting such costs. Principal shall provide no benefits to Contractor other than the compensation stated above.

You can download the full Agreement here.

A lengthy article written by Pagosa Springs SUN editor Terri House, published on December 28, 2017, summarizes numerous apparent violations of Colorado law by Mr. Proffitt and his friends on the SJWCD Board of Director, including:

1. Inaccurate or misleading representations made in District Court filings.

2. Changes to SJWCD bylaws that were never officially approved by the Board.

3. Illegal executive sessions, illegal meetings held via email, decisions made illegally during executive sessions, and failure to make audio recordings of executive sessions as required by Colorado law.

4. Board appointment made illegally.

5. And perhaps the most important issue facing the Archuleta County taxpayers:

Has Mr. Proffitt reimbursed the taxpayers for the money that he took under a contract that was apparently illegal?

As we found out from the emails sent to SJWCD Board members prior to their January 4, 2018, meeting — Mr. Proffitt seems to have a long history of showing contempt for Colorado law…

Read Part Two…

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Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson founded the Pagosa Daily Post in 2004 in hopes of making a decent living writing about local politics. The hope remains.