DougCo Commissioner Lora Thomas censured, hearing erupts over video statement

Mike McKibbin
L-R: Douglas County commissioners George Teal, Lora Thomas and Abe Laydon.Photo byDouglas County

By Mike McKibbin / NewsBreak Denver / Aug. 23, 2023

[DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLO.] — In a contentious hearing, Douglas County commissioners Abe Laydon and George Teal voted Tuesday to formally censure their Republican colleague, Lora Thomas.

Laydon and Teal — who have often criticized Thomas and ordered investigations into her actions over the last few years — claimed Thomas criticized the (county) cultural council about its grant funding recommendations, questioned its performance, and “employed a tone meant to negatively represent the cultural council’s work,” the censure resolution reads.

It also claims council members said they felt publicly shamed and attacked, had their values compromised and morale diminished by Thomas’ comments. Former council chair James Smith attributed his resignation to Thomas’ remarks.

The resolution also “determines such behavior violates the Douglas County Commissioners’ Code of Conduct; is unprofessional and not an acceptable representation of board practices; is conduct unbecoming one of its members; and tarnishes Douglas County’s reputation.”

Pattern of behavior ‘meritorious of censure’

Laydon called the censure “regrettable” and said it came after Thomas had shown “a habitual pattern of behavior that is meritorious of censure.” He also said her comments “publicly shamed” the volunteer council members.

Laydon said Thomas based her comments, at least in part, on “misinformation, misrepresentation and mistruths” and was not just a single instance.

“Over many years, she has attacked first responders, spread misinformation about the aerospace industry in Douglas County, attacked the Douglas County Community Foundation with misinformation,” he stated.

Thomas’ video leads to ‘a reality show’

When Thomas asked to have a video statement played, Teal protested and called it “strange.”

“The censured can always address her comments but I’ve never seen a time when they ask staff to do something like this,” he said.

Thomas then began to play the video on her cell phone, next to her microphone, and Thomas’ husband shouted from the back of the meeting room. Laydon banged his gavel to try to bring order to the meeting.

“This is like a reality show,” Teal stated. “This is not a political campaign show.”

Laydon struck his gavel on the table again until Thomas turned her video off. She then read the script into the microphone.

“I wanted to show everyone the incivility this board has shown towards me over the last few years but I’ve been silenced,” Thomas said. “The tyranny of the majority is attempting again to tarnish my reputation unless I go along to get along with them.”

Thomas noted Laydon and Teal “backed down” on a censure resolution against her last year but that “I will never back down from the slurs, the threats and the intimidation. Nothing in this changes anything, it doesn’t change my status, my salary or my ability to vote as a member of this board. I’ll never back down from a couple of bullies.”

The meeting ended shortly after Laydon banged his gavel a third time and told Thomas’ husband, “I will have you removed, Mr. Thomas, that’s a criminal offense.”

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