Short-term memory loss hits Boulder power players

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A Boulder Weekly request for phone records related to Boulder City Council member George Karakehian’s financial disclosures only raises more questions — and more suspicions.

Among the allegations raised by local political gadfly Seth Brigham — just before he was slapped with a restraining order by the city — was that Karakehian did not properly declare his 2011 financial interests in a form required to be completed by city council candidates. Brigham had sent his findings to both City Attorney Tom Carr and District Attorney Stan Garnett prior to being restrained.

An independent inquiry by Boulder Weekly (“Unzipped,” May 17) found that there does appear to be several LLCs that Karakehian should have declared on the forms, but didn’t. Garnett initially told BW on May 16 that he had launched an investigation into the matter, but when Karakehian learned of that inquiry, he said he would make some calls, because he was under the impression that the DA had told Tom Carr that there was “nothing to investigate.” Later that morning, Garnett called BW to report that the investigation had been closed because the claims had no merit and the DA’s office had no jurisdiction on the matter.

At that time, Garnett told BW he had not spoken with either Carr or Karakehian that day. But phone records obtained by BW show that Garnett did in fact talk to Carr five minutes earlier, despite the fact that both men subsequently denied speaking with each other during that timeframe.

Below is an edited timeline of phone calls, from the records of Carr and Boulder Weekly:

• 9:14 a.m. — Garnett tells BW his office is investigating financial disclosure allegations against Karakehian, and that the inquiry will take about two weeks.

• 9:30 a.m. — BW informs Karakehian of the DA’s investigation, Karakehian says that’s contrary to what he’s heard from Carr, and that he plans to make some calls

• 9:36 a.m. — Karakehian calls Carr

• 9:41 a.m. — Karakehian calls Carr again

• 10:41 a.m. — Garnett uses his personal cell phone to call Carr

• 10:43 a.m. — Carr calls Karakehian

• 10:46 a.m. — BW asks Garnett if he has talked to Carr or Karakehian that morning, Garnett says no.

• 11:15 a.m. — BW calls Carr, leaves a voicemail about the confusion

• 11:51 a.m. — Carr calls BW, denies he has talked to Garnett that morning prior to BW’s 11:15 a.m. voicemail to him

When asked about the phone records on May 22, Garnett told Boulder Weekly that he may have called Carr because his landline is unreliable, but “we certainly didn’t talk about this case.”

Several minutes later, Garnett called back, saying that he had just talked to Carr about their conversation on May 16, and that Carr had refreshed his memory. The two had, in fact, talked about the Karakehian case briefly, Garnett said, and they discussed the fact that the investigation had been closed. He apologized for not remembering the conversation, saying he was busy at the time and probably shouldn’t have been discussing an open investigation. “I think I certainly learned a lesson from this,” he said.

Garnett also insisted that neither Carr nor Karakehian swayed his decision to close the case.

As of press time Wednesday, Garnett had still not complied with a May 18 open records request for his telephone records, even though it was past the three-day timeframe for complying with such requests by state law.