Denver mayor tells public to stay home, then flies to see his family


DENVER (KDVR) — How will Denver Mayor Michael Hancock continue to navigate what’s being described as his Thanksgiving travel scandal? Hancock apologized on the eve of Thanksgiving as he prepared to celebrate the holiday with his wife and daughter out of state.

Hancock’s jet setting follows his repeated pleas for Denverites to avoid unnecessary travel.

Social media lit up Wednesday as constituents wondered why Hancock wasn’t transparent about his travel plans. Others questioned if the mayor assumed he could keep his getaway a secret. Hancock ignored CDC travel guidelines as residents across the Mile High City continue to suffer through the depression of not seeing family over the holidays.

“He needs to come up with a reason why his situation is a unique case,” said Michael Nalick, a University of Denver professor and expert on the study of government and politics.

A unique reason justifying the travel has not been provided by the mayor. Instead, the mayor pointed to his yearning to be with family for the holidays.

Without a reasonable explanation, Nalick said the mayor should apologize. Mayor Michael B. Hancock issued the following statement Wednesday regarding his personal Thanksgiving travel:

“I fully acknowledge that I have urged everyone to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel. I have shared how my family cancelled our plans for our traditional multi-household Thanksgiving celebration. What I did not share, but should have, is that my wife and my daughter have been in Mississippi, where my daughter recently took a job. As the holiday approached, I decided it would be safer for me to travel to see them than to have two family members travel back to Denver. 

“I recognize that my decision has disappointed many who believe it would have been better to spend Thanksgiving alone.  As a public official, whose conduct is rightly scrutinized for the message it sends to others, I apologize to the residents of Denver who see my decision as conflicting with the guidance to stay at home for all but essential travel. I made my decision as a husband and father, and for those who are angry and disappointed, I humbly ask you to forgive decisions that are borne of my heart and not my head.”

But regardless of apology, Nalick said the Hancock’s Thanksgiving Eve flight has landed him on a political naughty list.

“He is now being added to a list of names, such as [California Governor] Gavin Newsom, and other politicians … he’s basically grouped together into a scandalous behavior of a lot of politicians,” Nalick said.

FOX31 chief political strategist and Democrat Andy Boian also weighed in on the controversy. Boian is also a crisis communications professional who represented Newsom in the court of public opinion after pictures showed Newsom at a restaurant without wearing a mask.

“I think this was not an act of hypocrisy,” Boian said concerning Hancock’s CDC guidance misdeed. “This was an act of really human nature. He will come back to face scrutiny and questions … and he’s a smart man … he knows that he’ll [face] that.”

Both Nalick and Boian said there is plenty of hope for Hancock in terms of public perception.

“American people are a forgiving people, especially as it relates to self-interest,” Nalick said.

Boian is optimistic in how Hancock will respond to the scrutiny.

“Of course we’ll forgive him,” Boian said. “Of course there will be opportunity to ask questions and he’ll say this is what I chose. This is what I decided.”

It is unclear when Hancock will return to Denver from the Southern United States. FOX31 asked Hancock’s office if Denver police officers joined the mayor on his trip. The city said it does not officially comment on mayoral security measures.

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