Clovis mayor calls for commissioner's resignation
Mike Morris to David Bryant: 'Your words and actions have been a betrayal of the public's trust.'
Last updated 6/26/2023 at 10:15am
Clovis Mayor Mike Morris on Friday called for the resignation of City Commissioner David Bryant, accusing Bryant of “misuse, if not theft, of public funds.”
Bryant, in a two-sentence response via Facebook Messenger, said he is chalking up the mayor’s words as “retaliation” for a disagreement over the anti-abortion ordinance the city passed early this year.
In emails to Bryant, obtained Friday by The News, Morris accused the commissioner of being “dishonest” about attending a recent New Mexico Municipal League training.
“I believe you lied to your fellow commissioners and the public as you falsely reported having attended the training,” Morris wrote Bryant in one email. “Your words and actions have been a betrayal of the public’s trust.”
In the email dated June 16, Morris said he was calling on Bryant to “replace the public’s funds and resign from your city commission seat.”
In a followup email dated Monday, Morris wrote Bryant: “I have given you the opportunity to take the appropriate action in a reasonably quiet manner. If you do not replace the funds and resign your commission seat by the end of the day, I will not have any choice but to press forward with additional action on my end. I won’t sit by and do nothing nor will I look the other way on this.”
Bryant did not respond to questions from The News, but did send a 27-second video from a December city commission meeting. In the video, Morris is seen criticizing Bryant for calling a special meeting for a vote on the anti-abortion ordinance.
Morris said he agreed with Bryant in that he did not want Clovis to become an “abortion destination.” But Morris wanted time to develop an ordinance that would stand up in court.
Commissioners in January passed an ordinance, but the governor and state’s attorney general have declared it unenforceable.
While the mayor has no authority to remove a city commissioner from office, Morris said he wants to expose Bryant’s alleged misdeeds so voters will consider recalling him.
“I think he needs to go,” Morris said in a telephone interview Friday night.
Morris alleges that while Bryant checked into a hotel for the training, “he never actually attended the training.”
The mayor said the city was billed $250 for the training session Bryant was scheduled to attend and about $400 for hotel bills. He said Bryant also requested to be reimbursed for mileage to Santa Fe, where the training was held.
Morris said he first learned Bryant may not have attended the Municipal Officials Leadership Institute training June 5-7 from City Manager Justin Howalt and Assistant City Manager Claire Burroughes; they attended a “congruent” meeting at the same time in the same hotel.
Morris said he then reached out to Municipal League officials who told him they did not see Bryant and that he did not pick up the packet of information provided those who attend the training.
The mayor said he asked Bryant to report on what he learned at the training during the most recent city commission meeting on June 15 and that Bryant gave a report. “He did not have any details,” Morris said.
The mayor said he then confronted Bryant after the meeting with allegations Bryant failed to attend the training. Morris said Bryant told him, “I’m not doing this with you,” and walked away.
Bryant was elected to Clovis city commission District 3 on March 1, 2022, defeating opponent Paul Nelson, 71 votes to 50.
Bryant was a long-time city employee as its purchasing agent and risk manager, but he resigned in 2016, alleging the city had created a “hostile working environment.” Records show the city ultimately paid Bryant $10,000 for an American with Disabilities Act violation. Neither the city nor Bryant have provided details about that settlement because of what Bryant termed a non-disclosure agreement.
Morris said he plans to publicly confront Bryant about the training seminar when the city commission meets again on July 6.