Dem mayor who traveled during holidays, told others not to due to COVID-19, sees ethics complaint dismissed

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An ethics complaint against Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who flew to Texas over the Thanksgiving holiday even after telling his constituents to limit travel, was dismissed by the state's Board of Ethics on Wednesday.

Board Chairman Joseph Michaels acknowledged that Hancock’s actions angered city residents, who viewed it as hypocritical, but said they did not violate the city's code of ethics, The Denver Post reported.

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"This board certainly does not condone that travel," he said.

A representative of the board told Fox News that they receive numerous complaints about elected officials to scrutinize their behavior but "unless an actionable section of the code is implicated, the board, as a body, cannot act or really render an opinion (or statement) with respect to that conduct."

Hancock flew to Texas over the holiday, rented a car and drove to Mississippi to be with his family while sharing messages on social media asking residents to avoid travel.

Minutes before his flight, he released a tweet warning people to "Pass the potatoes, not COVID," and advised them to "Host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners" and "Avoid travel, if you can."

Hancock apologized for the trip after backlash from public health officials, residents and politicians.

Tonia Wilson, a member of Safe and Sound Denver, a group that condemned Hancock for his travels and hypocrisy, filed a complaint against him on Nov. 28, saying that he disregarded the city’s code of ethics. She also accused him of using his personal security detail and transportation – paid for with tax dollars — for private gain.

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"I regret my decision to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a mistake for which I have taken responsibility and apologized to the people of Denver, and while it has been alleged that my conduct somehow violated Denver’s ethics code, the complaint seems to rely on incorrect facts and/or assumptions," Hancock said in a written response as requested by the ethics board in January.

Michaels on Wednesday said Hancock did not use city resources to purchase the ticket for the flight.

"As the board has mentioned with respect to other complaints, the board is troubled by the allegations and expects all public employees, officers and elected officials to live up to the highest standard of ethical behavior," he said during the hearing.

Spokespersons for Hancock and Wilson did not respond to Fox News' requests for comments.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Vandana Rambaran Fox News