County discusses Brown dismissal, possible breach of county files


RIO GRANDE COUNTY- During a meeting of the Rio Grande County Commissioners held June 17, the board was notified of a possible breach to county files as the result of an inquiry for access to county documents from previous Public Health Director Emily Brown.


After a precursory review of the security system by the county’s technology security contractor Tyler Tobin, it was determined that there was not a threat to the county’s system.  Department officials were told to not disclose or allow permission to such documents at any time.


Tobin did state that this was a valid concern but that there are firewalls in place to help ensure that no pertinent information could be gathered. Commissioners still do not have specific details about what information was requested.


According to County Administrator Trish Slater, the request for documents came from Brown who had been a member with the Healthcare Coalition (HCC) board who handles and oversees a grant through the organization. Brown was working with the HCC under the assumption that she was still an active member, when in fact, she could no longer serve with the HCC after her termination from the county.

Brown turned in her resignation immediately after this was brought to light by Slater, HCC members and CDPHE.


The board made it very clear that they were not alleging any wrongdoing on Brown’s part but that they would proceed with an investigation to determine whether or not a breach had been made which was later determined to not have occurred.


Brown has been interviewed several times by other press organizations in the wake of her termination from Rio Grande County though specific reasons why she was terminated remain unknown. Slater stated during the meeting that Brown was requesting drives for specific information in order to fulfill her obligations under the contract with HCC.


Rio Grande County Chairman John Noffsker stated in an interview that occurred after the meeting that Brown was partially terminated from her position with the county for not sharing pertinent information in a timely matter to which he clarified stating, “During the pandemic, Brown refused to share pertinent information with law enforcement.”


Noffsker clarified stating that Brown went against state guidelines that highlighted the need to share with law enforcement agencies and Emergency Managers minimal information on potentially COVID-19 positive people when they responded to homes and to social service workers completing child welfare checks.


“We also discussed with Emily in a public meeting of the board about sharing the results of the variance request with other Public Health officials before contacting the County Commissioners. The information in the variance was not classified information but she shared the approval with the regional Public Health group and associates before notifying the board.”


Throughout the process of creating the variance for Rio Grande County a month ago, Brown made it clear several times and on public record that she did not agree with the variance request and that she thought the county was working to open up too soon. Brown did sign the variance with her approval before sending it in to be approved by CDPHE. Commissioners stated that her hesitancy to approve the variance was not considered when the decision to terminate her employment was made.

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