The Board of Ethics, established by Denver ordinance and the City Charter, is an independent agency governed by specific provisions of the City Charter, the Denver Code of Ethics and its own Rules of Procedure. There are five members of the Board, appointed by the Mayor and by City Council. Members are all unpaid volunteers and meet monthly. The Board has one full-time employee, Executive Director, Lori Weiser.
Denver has had a Code of Ethics for city officers, employees and officials since at least 1965. The City Council strengthened the Code of Ethics in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2018. Both the Denver City Charter and the Code of Ethics provide “it is the intent of the City and County of Denver that its officers, officials and employees adhere to high levels of ethical conduct so that the public will have confidence that persons in positions of public responsibility are acting for the benefit of the public.”
Encourage and guide city officers, officials and employees to adhere to high levels of ethical conduct so that the public will have confidence that persons in positions of public responsibility are acting for the benefit of the public.
The Board of Ethics wishes to give proper consideration to every request for an advisory opinion or waiver.Therefore, the Board encourages anyone requesting an official advisory opinion or waiver to:
Adopted by the Board of Ethics: June 22, 2006
The Denver Code of Ethics prohibits City officers, employees or officials from accepting travel or lodging expenses under certain circumstances. In that regard, the Denver Board of Ethics has considered several requests for advisory opinions and/or waivers relating to payment for travel or lodging expenses for City employees by organizations other than the City and County of Denver.
To assist you, the Board of Ethics publishes the following guidelines for your use:
While the Board of Ethics has the authority to grant a waiver, it believes that the best interests of the City are served if waivers are not routinely granted. However, the Board of Ethics is prepared in emergency, unusual or exigent circumstances to consider granting waivers. The fact that a City department or agency does not have sufficient budget for travel and lodging expenses is not sufficient to justify the granting of a waiver by the Board of Ethics.
Issued December 2002
Board members are volunteer unpaid positions. Each Board member must be willing to dedicate himself or herself and the necessary professional time to:
Joseph G. Michaels is a Senior Assistant Attorney General for the Colorado Attorney General, where his practice focuses on appellate and criminal law. He received his J. D. from the University of Iowa College of Law. After law school, he clerked for the Hon. Arthur P. Roy at the Colorado Court of Appeals. He also is an adjunct instructor for the Community College of Denver’s paralegal program and a member of the Colorado Bar Association’s Ethics Committee. He was appointed by City Council to a term that expires on June 19, 2023. He was elected Vice-Chair of the Board of Ethics in June 2019.
Dianne Criswell is a Senior Associate Attorney at Kelly PC, and has focused her career on government law. She graduated from the University of Washington Law School and is licensed in Colorado and Washington State (inactive). Before joining Kelly PC, she served as Revenue Counsel to the Washington State Senate and as Legislative Counsel at the Colorado Municipal League. At Kelly, PC, she advises municipalities and other local governments on many local government issues. She also serves as counsel to a number of non-profit and governmental boards. Appointed by the Mayor, her term will expire May 1, 2023.
Sylvia S. Smith has been employed with the City and County of Denver in a variety of capacities - from Director of Policy and Research in the Auditor’s Office to her current position as Assistant Director for the Neighborhoods Division of Denver Economic Development and Opportunity. She holds a B. A. in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Denver. She has been active in many organizations including the Colorado Black Women for Political Action, Single Mothers of Color, Inc., National Council of Negro Women, Inc., Denver Section and Colorado Common Cause and served as a Commissioner for the Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission. Appointed by the Mayor and City Council to 2 terms, ending June 24, 2021. She served as Vice-Chair of the Board in 2015 - 2017.
Andrew S. Armatas earned his. B. A. at the University of Colorado at Boulder and his J. D. from the University of Denver. He served as a Denver Assistant City Attorney, a partner in a Denver law firm, City Attorney for Broomfield and a Denver County Court Judge, retiring in January 2013 after 23 years of service on the bench. During 7 of those years, he served as Presiding Judge of the Denver County Court. He was appointed by the Mayor to 2 terms, ending on April 30, 2021.
Jane T. Feldman was the Executive Director of the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission for nearly six years. Prior to that, she was a First Assistant Attorney General in the Natural Resources Section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, and an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Enforcement Section. She began her legal career in the New York County District Attorney’s Office in New York City. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She served on the Steering Committee and as President of the Council on Government Ethics Laws (COGEL). She previously served on the Denver Board of Ethics in 2015, but resigned in December of 2015, because she moved to New York State to serve as the Executive Director of the Office of Ethics and Compliance for the New York State Assembly. She served for a year and a half in that position before returning to Colorado in 2017. She currently is the Principal of Rocky Mountain Ethics Consulting, which advises local governments on ethics issues, and has acted as pro bono counsel in several immigration cases. She was appointed by City Council to a term that will expire on April 20, 2021.
Board meetings are monthly and are currently held on the second Wednesday of every month, at the Wellington Webb Building, in room 2.D.4. Meetings begin at 8:00 a.m. and last for two hours.
Please check the schedule each month as the dates and times may vary.
Summarized opinions given by the Denver Board of Ethics in response to fact-specific requests for advisory opinions or complaints.
All requests for advisory opinions, citizen inquiries or complaints must be submitted either by email or in writing to:
201 West Colfax Avenue # 2H13
Dept 703 (for U.S. mail)
Denver, CO 80202
How to Request Ethical Advice
The Board of Ethics, if requested, gives official written advisory opinions to city employees, elected officers, and board and commission members about the Code of Ethics issues.
Learn more about how to request ethical advice.