A former aide to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock fired for alleged sexual harassment has filed notice that he intends to sue the city, seeking more than $362,000.
Wayne McDonald was fired in May from his $85,000-a-year job after allegations of "serious misconduct" were lodged against him by a female police officer.
On Tuesday, McDonald's attorney also filed a complaint with the city's Board of Ethics against Hancock, the police officer and Amber Miller - Hancock's press secretary.
Attorney Anne Sulton said "McDonald categorically denies that he sexually harassed (the) Denver police officer" and that he has been unable to find a job or obtain unemployment because of the allegations.
Denver City Attorney Doug Friednash said the claim has no merit. McDonald "was an employee at will and the city's actions were reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances."
McDonald, a driver during Hancock's campaign and a college friend, could not be reached for comment. McDonald also worked at the Denver Urban League when Hancock was president and has been described as one of the mayor's closest friends.
McDonald was also the girls basketball coach at Overland High School in Aurora.
After Hancock was elected in 2011, McDonald was appointed to be "special projects coordinator" in the mayor's office and was paid $85,000 a year.
That position under previous Mayor John Hickenlooper paid about $45,000. But Hancock's office last year said McDonald's duties were more than simply being an aide.
On March 19, McDonald was assigned to the Department of Excise and Licensing, where he worked on external affairs.
Sulton alleges that Hancock, the police officer and Miller broke city rules by releasing confidential information to the press about McDonald.
The complaints also allege the police officer improperly used her position to falsely accuse McDonald of sexual harassment.
Sulton said the police officer was instead pursuing McDonald, saying she placed numerous phone calls to McDonald's personal cell phone to discuss personal matters before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m., when he was off duty.
The two exchanged expensive gifts over Christmas, according to the claim, but their interaction stopped after she met McDonald's family at church.
"It was clear that he wasn't going to deal with her because he has a wife and kids," Sulton said. "She has a tape recording that seems to support that."
The police officer recorded at least one 31-minute personal conversation with McDonald that was used to support her allegation against him. The city did not release the audio tape to the press, denying open records requests on the basis that information in sexual harassment claims are prohibited for release under state law.
Michael Henry, staff director for the Denver Board of Ethics, said he cannot comment on whether an ethics complaint had been received. The board receives many complaints and first screens whether it has jurisdiction over the issue.
Sulton in August filed a notice of claim with the city that McDonald intends to sue, saying he was wrongfully terminated and that he is owed $262,084 in wages that he would have earned in his position and $100,000 in compensation for emotional distress. Sulton said she intends to officially file suit next month.