El Paso County Copier Controversy

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A copier controversy at Thursday's El Paso County Commissioners meeting. This all relates to copy machines county workers use.

The copier contract went out to bid last summer. When DANKA was about to get the contract, and Bircham's Office Products wasn't, Commissioner Douglas Bruce stepped in.

This morning's meeting was emotional at times. It hashed out the accusation of bias by Commissioner Bruce towards Bircham's.

In a complaint filed in December, a DANKA attorney accused Bruce of calling Ed Bircham, a "long time friend" and "endorser," to warn Bircham's company was set to loose the bid. That complaint was withdrawn a couple weeks ago according to the county.

Commissioner Bruce says the two aren't good friends, and their shared political views are not the reason he called.

"It was because he was the low bidder," said Bruce "Not because he said that he agreed with my politics, that I contacted him."

He says he was looking out for the tax payers and calling into question why the lowest bidder wasn't getting the contract. The county's attorney said he looked into the accusations and found no bias either.

Commissioner Sallie Clark says the entire board needs to be careful to stay out of the bidding process.

"We have to remain as independent as possible when these contracts come before us. And its dangerous when you do contact bidders and try and, it even give the appearance, sometimes its just the appearance of it, not that anything has actually happened," said Clark.

Commissioner Clark says she is confident the process ended fairly, with both vendors, plus the current vendor, Ikon Office Solutions, all able to supply the county with copiers.

The county attorney confirmed today DANKA withdrew the complaint, once the staff recommended the county use both vendors.

County department heads, not commissioners, will decide which of the company's copy machines each department will use.