Denver city councilman calls for outside investigation into Mayor Hancock

DENVER -- Denver City Councilman Rafael Espinoza has called for an independent investigation into Mayor Michael Hancock.

Last month, Hancock was accused of sexual harassment by a former member of his security team.

Hancock sent a handwritten apology to Denver police Det. Leslie Branch-Wise for sending inappropriate text messages to her in 2012, the mayor's office said.

RELATED: Councilman Rafael Espinoza letter to Mayor Michael Hancock

In a letter sent to the Hancock, Espinoza questions whether the city council received all of the information regarding a 2016 legal briefing about a $200,000 settlement paid to former mayoral aide Wayne McDonald.

Last month, it was revealed McDonald was accused of sexual harassment by the same officer who received several suggestive text messages from Hancock about the same time.

McDonald was fired by Hancock in 2012 over the allegations after Branch-Wise came forward.

McDonald sued the city for wrongful termination and settled for $200,000. Branch-Wise was paid a $75,000 city settlement over the claims involving McDonald in 2013.

As part of that settlement, she agreed not to file claims against anyone else in the city, including Hancock.

“To remove the cloud forming over your administration, it is in the best interests of the citizens of Denver that you direct the current city attorney to commission an independent investigation by an outside party, selected by council, to delve into this matter and provide a full accounting,” Espinoza wrote to Hancock.

“This should be done with all due speed to ensure that voters have clarity (of) the conduct of the person occupying the most powerful office in Denver, before they are asked to consider (in the May 2019 election) whom should occupy that seat.”

Spokeswoman Amber Miller said Hancock “has been open, honest and transparent and has taken full responsibility for his actions. The councilman's letter is full of inaccuracies and accusations and we encourage him to take time with the city attorney to acquaint himself with the facts.”