Ethics commission dismisses complaint against Custer County public health director | News

The Colorado Unbiased Ethics Commission dismissed the ethics criticism against Custer County’s general public overall health director, Clifford Brown, in an get issued Wednesday.

The complaint, filed in December 2020 by Jordan Hedberg, publisher and editor of the Soaked Mountain Tribune, alleged Brown dedicated two prison violations: next degree forgery and use of forged tutorial information. Individuals rates were tied to academic credentials Brown submitted to the Custer County board of community overall health, which is built up of the county commissioners.

Brown claimed he holds a 2008 grasp in public overall health diploma from Dartley College. A 2012 ebook on diploma mills, published by a previous FBI agent, reported Dartley had no authority to grant degrees. The Countrywide Scholar Clearinghouse, a non-financial gain and primary service provider of academic reporting, facts trade, verification, and investigate solutions, also has no file of Dartley University in the United States.

The 2012 e book identifies Dartley as staying based in Delaware. Even so, Colorado Politics observed that the condition of Delaware has no file of the university inside of its company database. The greater education and learning division of the Delaware Department of Training explained to Colorado Politics it has no document the university ever existed in that point out.

Hedberg also claimed Brown violated the general public belief by continuing to misrepresent his credentials because remaining appointed to the task. Hedburg observed for the duration of a Nov. 16 listening to that Brown indications e-mail with “MPH,” a degree that, in accordance to the documentation Brown submitted to an ethics fee investigator, he does not have.

The investigation report, attained by Colorado Politics, demonstrates the degree Brown submitted — a master of science in public well being, which is a analysis degree — is faint and badly copied. All of the signatures are illegible. The transcript is also inadequately copied and barely legible, and is signed by a “Phillip Samuels, Registrar” but is undated and does not have a college seal that would verify its authenticity, which is normal marketplace follow.

On the net diploma mills are not banned below federal legislation. An on line diploma mill is described as an entity that lacks accreditation from a point out or specialist accreditation group, but that nonetheless sells faculty and graduate degrees that are fraudulent or worthless due to the fact of the deficiency of standards.

Brown advised the commission’s investigator that he could not vouch for Dartley University. Brown stated he took two yrs of on the net classes, such as on-line assessments. In accordance to the investigation report, Brown stated the MPH plan at Dartley did not include composed academic components there were being no composed examinations and there were being no written substantive course supplies. “Rather, substantive actions at Dartley ended up all oral, together with cell phone calls and tests. There ended up no course lectures. Exams were executed by 4 examiners. Respondent does not recall examiners’ names or qualifications.”

Procedures from the Condition Board of Wellness demand a non-medical professional applicant for general public health and fitness director to keep a master’s diploma in a general public wellbeing self-discipline, such as environmental wellbeing, well being education and learning, epidemiology, wellbeing administration/plan, and biostatistics nursing, general public administration, well being administration or a carefully similar self-control and, five a long time in the past 10 of administrative working experience in public overall health.

In the  investigation report, Michelle Shimomura from the Colorado Office of Public Health and Natural environment (CDPHE), said she realized the degree from Dartley was “controversial.” She also admitted she hardly ever validated Brown’s academic skills, telling the investigator that if the info was inaccurate, which is the county’s trouble.

Brown’s resume showed he served in the US Public Health and fitness Provider until eventually 2010 and from 2013 to 2018 with Alabama’s Veterans Administration facility. In individuals positions he worked as an optometrist or in management of optometry, not epidemiology or virology. He is not accredited to practice optometry in the state of Colorado, according to a review of data from the condition Office of Regulatory Companies.

In its buy, the fee wrote that “violation of individuals statutes could constitute a violation of the community believe in if these types of steps allowed respondent to improperly advantage fiscally from his public employment, and consequently might represent ‘other specifications of conduct’ in the commission’s jurisdiction.”

Having said that, the commission resolved for two good reasons that it did not have jurisdiction more than Brown. Very first, because the commission resolved the submission of the tutorial qualifications arrived prior to his hiring as a county personnel, he would not have been less than the commission’s authority till he was hired. 

And, on the next degree forgery allegation, the fee pointed out — something county attorney Clint Smith cited for the duration of the Nov. 16 hearing — the statute specifically excludes educational data.

Last but not least, Hedberg’s assert that Brown proceeds to violate the general public have faith in by keeping a place for which he is not certified is not a violation under the state ethics legislation, the commission’s dismissal order reported.

Hedberg explained to Colorado Politics he is upset by the commission’s ruling.

”The people of Custer County, which has the oldest (by age) inhabitants in the state, has a county personnel pretending to have education and practical experience we have obviously shown he does not have through a pandemic. It is very clear that the condition on just about every degree is simply not intrigued in the education and learning or schooling credentials of its workers that provide the community throughout a disaster,” he mentioned.

Given that Brown became public health director in 2020, the county has been mired in controversy over its managing of the pandemic.

On March 3, the Custer County board of community wellbeing made a decision to lift all COVID limitations, according to reviews from the Moist Mountain Tribune. Brown reportedly advised the board that an govt purchase from Gov. Jared Polis “permits a county to lift constraints if it has returned to ordinary.”

Just two days later on, Jill Hunsaker Ryan, government director of the Colorado Department of Public Wellbeing and Ecosystem, wrote to the board and Brown, reminding them that their final decision “is in direct violation of the governor’s executive orders and the condition general public health and fitness orders” issued by CDPHE. Ryan stated the executive buy “even further requires consultation with the point out and the assembly of specified metrics in purchase for a county to shift degrees. Custer County has not consulted with CDPHE on going ranges in the Dial.” Brown claimed he experienced consulted with CDPHE.

Irrespective of warning that disregarding condition law could result in denial of specified state funds, CDPHE took no motion. 

Custer County, population just below 5,000, has a person of the state’s greatest fees of COVID-19 bacterial infections, presently with a just one-7 days positivity fee of 13.6%. That’s much more than 4 proportion factors previously mentioned the condition common. All a few county commissioners tested optimistic for COVID just after a March 10 community conference in which no just one wore masks.

Brown did not react to a ask for for comment.