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McFadyen case creates questions about holding elected leaders accountable

By Scott Harrison
Chris Loveless, Digital Content Director , c.loveless@krdo.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:57:26 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 20 2013 12:58:50 PM CST

Can action be taken against Pueblo County Commissioner Buffie McFadyen for missing the last three board meetings?

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

UPDATED at 11:57 a.m. on Wednesday, November 20, 2013.

Pueblo County Commissioner Buffy McFadyen addressed the media Wednesday morning. KRDO NewsChannel 13's Emily Allen reports that during the news conference McFadyen referred to the night in question as "the night that nothing happened." McFadyen said the deputies were doing their job on the night in January that they questioned her and that she was not given preferential treatment. She also said that she missed three consecutive board meetings because she was on vacation in New York.

KRDO NewsChannel 13's Emily Allen will have much more later today on KRDO NewsChannel 13 and KRDO.com.

(STORY FROM EARLIER TUESDAY)

Few options besides a recall are available to express criticism if an elected official misses too many meetings, state and local leaders said Tuesday.

Pueblo County Commissioner Buffie McFadyen has missed three consecutive board meetings since going public with her involvement in a DUI investigation by a deputy last January.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 learned that McFadyen was on vacation last week, even though commissioners don't get vacation days in most instances.

The Pueblo County Clerk's Office and the Colorado Secretary of State's Office said the most direct ways voters can show disapproval about absent board or council members are by recalling them or not reelecting them.

However, El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey mentioned two other options.

"State law allows us to fine a commissioner ten dollars for an unexcused absence," he said.  "If it lasts six months, then (the county) can try to fill that seat with someone else, but that's never happened.  Voters also can criticize absent commissioners during the public comment section of a meeting.  Other than that, we have pretty limited ability to publicly censure someone for not attending."

McFadyen earns $87,000 in annual salary as a commissioner.

McFadyen was questioned and released by Erik Barlow, a Pueblo County deputy, in the late January incident, even though he said he believed she was drunk.  Barlow said he didn't issue a DUI citation because McFadyen wasn't driving and didn't have keys in the ignition of her car.

Barlow said McFadyen was with Pueblo County Democratic Chairman Ron Greenwell that night.  According to a statement released by McFadyen, she and Greenwell were parked beside each other in a lot near the intersection of U.S. 50 and Swallows Road, but were sitting together in McFadyen's car when Barlow responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle.

According to Barlow's report, McFadyen's husband, Troy Manchego, arrived to give her and Greenwell a ride home.  However, according to a report by the Pueblo Chieftain, Manchego later was found to have a suspended license.

The incident led to public concern that McFadyen received special treatment.

The El Paso County District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case at the request of the Pueblo County District Attorney's Office, to determine if charges are warranted.

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