Main menu


Joe O'Dea's business record in the limelight in Colorado's Senate race

featured image

Republican Senate candidate Construction company owner Joe O’Dea’s records as an employer have come under scrutiny on the campaign trail for dozens of worker safety and wage violations, as well as multiple lawsuits.

Important reasons: A first-time candidate with a limited political record, O’Dea draws on his business background, in contrast to incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennett, who has served since his 2009 appointment.

  • The Republican pitch is to “rebuild” Washington.

News promotion: O’Dea’s Denver-based Concrete Express Inc. has been fined $135,000 by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 28 occupational safety violations since its inception in 1988, reports the Denver Business Journal. increase.

  • Most importantly, he has been fined since 2008 after a floor collapsed in a high-rise building in Greenwood Village in 2007, injuring 13 subcontractor employees. Fined $107,500, O’Dea’s company sued the subcontractor and entered into an undisclosed settlement.
  • Other fines during the year ranged from $561 to $10,000.

note: Since its inception in 1988, O’Dea’s company has been cited in 26 wage violations and 13 violations related to improper payments to workers.

what he says: Responding to questions about the violation, the Republican candidate said, “I think anyone who has been in business understands that because they were victims of it.”

  • “There are literally hundreds of employees who have worked here and retired…I’m just going to stand by the record,” he added.

Line spacing: Concrete Express initially stuck to its name, but expanded its reach to include bridges, land development, water and recreational projects.

  • According to O’Dea, 85% of the company’s projects are funded by the government. Colorado Newsline also estimates that Concrete Express received $400 million from contracts with federal, state, and local governments.
  • Notable projects include the Coorsfield parking lot, Chatfield Dam Reservoir reconstruction, and a new project to reconnect the Colorado River around the Windy Gap Dam. The latter will be possible after Bennett helps secure funding.

note: O’Dea began construction work after high school and dropped out of college a semester early to start Concrete Express. He started his career as a contractor for the union, but has since fired the union, saying that it “has not reached its full potential.”

  • Meanwhile, Dennis Dougherty, executive director of the AFL-CIO in Colorado, which backs Bennett, called O’Dea “a corporate wolf in workers’ clothes.”

conspiracy: Detractors of O’Dea seeking to draw attention to O’Dea’s leadership at Concrete Express have spotlighted two lawsuits against the company.

  • One of them involved an HR manager who filed a lawsuit alleging age and disability discrimination after leaving the company in 2019. The lawsuit was settled by a non-disclosure agreement, and O’Dea argues that evidence challenges the allegations.
  • Another involved the driver of the Concrete Express gravel truck that killed a Boulder cyclist in 2006, allegedly overloaded with faulty brakes. The company settled and both parties signed a confidentiality agreement.

Opposite side: “He’s very well respected in Colorado,” Tony Milo, leader of the State Contractors Association, said of O’Dea, who once led the organization and served on its board. I think people who are trying are purely political.”

What’s next: ProgressNow, a liberal advocacy group, says it has identified more than 20 parties injured by the Concrete Express and is calling on O’Dea to release them from any restrictions on speaking out about the incident.

  • O’Dea’s campaign refused to comply with the request when asked by Axios Denver.