Report Claims Hedquist Violated Conflict of Interest Laws
In a report released Tuesday morning, a Casper-based attorney has concluded that city councilor Craig Hedquist violated conflict of interest laws and tried to use his position on Casper City Council to leverage better road construction deals between his company and the city.
“I conclude that there is clear and convincing evidence of Mr. Hedquist’s violation of the Casper, Wyoming, Code of Ordinances, Wyoming Statutes and common law principles regarding conflicts of interest,” Casper attorney Wes Reeves wrote in the conflict of interest report.
“In previous exchanges with the city engineering staff, Mr. Hedquist had specifically said that he was acting both for his construction company and for the constituents who had elected him,” Reeves wrote. “He was probably instructed by his counsel that he should not claim this dual responsibility, but on August 28, clearly expected Mr. Beamer to remember just who he was.”
Reeves is referring to an exchange Hedquist allegedly had with city engineer Andrew Beamer during a construction progress meeting on Aug. 28 of this year.
According to the Reeves report, Hedqust began that meeting by saying, “I am the owner of Hedqust Construction and I am speaking as a contractor on this job. I am not speaking in any other form or capacity that I have in the city council, okay?” But Hedquist, according to the Reeves report, later said to Beamer, “Do you know who you’re talking to?”
In the initial conduct report released by Kathleen Dixon, Hedqust allegedly asked Beamer if he was “… f---ing going to stand up, b---h? Are you going to start paying?” at one point during the meeting. Beamer told Dixon’s firm that Hedquist also had a “challenging type of look” during the altercation.
Beamer, according to the Dixon report, made a legal recording of the meeting.
Dixon concluded that, by confronting Beamer, Hedquist committed workplace violence during the meeting. Following the release of the Dixon report, Hedquist was asked by city officials to alter the way in which he communicates with city staff.
“Mr. Hedquist routinely uses his office to skip the chain of command to obtain access to the city manager, department heads and staff for purposes of arguing for the interest of his company,” Reeves wrote in his report. “Mr. Hedquist uses these occasions to criticize policies, work product and employee competence.”
Reeves also alleges that Hedquist tried to obtain job cost information from city manager John Patterson for work done on Aster Street earlier this year.
“Mr. Hedquist has clearly used his position as a council member to obtain information from the city about construction costs of work done by the city,” Reeves writes. “This and other information requested and obtained by Mr. Hedquist most probably would not have been given to other contractors and gives Mr. Hedquist an advantage in bidding future work.”
Reeves was added to the city’s legal counsel in November. The city initially hired Dixon again to conduct the conflict of interest investigation, but Dixon stepped away after lawyers with Hedquist, who claimed the hiring raised conflict of interest concerns, protested the hiring.
“It struck me as being a waste of the city’s time and money to have us arguing over whether or not one attorney or another attorney should be the person to do the investigation and the prosecution,” Dixon said in October.
Dixon is a former Casper City Council member.
Reeves, in his report, recommends that “... a contested case be commenced pursuant to the Wyoming Administrative Procedure Act, so that the council may deliberate on these issues and consider remedial measures, if, in their judgment, any are appropriate."
Hedquist is the owner of Hedquist Construction, a Casper-based road construction and repair company that frequently works with the city.