CO Sen: Hickenlooper In Stand-Off With Independent Ethics Commission

Posted: May 28, 2020 2:35 PM
CO Sen: Hickenlooper In Stand-Off With Independent Ethics Commission

Source: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Update: A subpoena is being sought for Hickenlooper's appearance at the ethics hearing, filed by the Public Trust Institute that originally filed the complaint against Hickenlooper. The commission is expected to review the situation on Monday:

Original Post: Colorado Senate hopeful and former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is under fire for a controversy surrounding an ethics investigation into travel during his tenure as governor. The original complaint was filed by Frank McNulty, former GOP Speaker of Colorado’s legislature, through the Public Trust Institute.

"Colorado law severely restricts when a covered official may accept flights on private corporate jets or other travel expenses from a for-profit corporation and, as documented below, Governor Hickenlooper has repeatedly violated these laws,” the complaint reads.

Hickenlooper and his advisors agreed that the former governor would testify, but called the lawsuit “frivolous.” On account of COVID-19, the hearing was moved to a virtual format, which the former governor did not take well.

Hickenlooper’s lawyers said last week that the former governor would not testify in a virtual format, arguing that due process would be compromised. 

His taxpayer-funded lawyer, Mark Grueskin argued that Hickenlooper’s “reputational interests are at stake here, and it is disappointing that the commission’s embrace of a flawed technology will almost certainly deny him the due process to which he is entitled.”

Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission, which is appointed by the state legislature, governor and state chief justice, issued a ruling that Hickenlooper must testify virtually on June 4, despite the virtual format. If this commission elects to proceed virtually, Hickenlooper will receive a subpoena, which he promised to challenge in court.

Indeed, Hickenlooper’s legal defense is paid on the backs of taxpayers. Grueskin, a high-powered Colorado attorney, is compensated via a fund intended to alleviate economic damage from  9/11, to the tune of $78,930, or $525 per hour.

“It seems Joyride John wants to do anything but testify at next week's hearing about the free private jet and Maserati limo trips he took from corporate donors and ‘friends’ in violation of the state constitution,” said NRSC spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez. “It's pathetic Hickenlooper and his $525/hour taxpayer-funded lawyer feel so entitled that they continue to oppose the virtual format millions of Americans and Colorado’s own criminal courts have adopted.”

“Frivolous” or not, Hickenlooper, who hopes to represent Colorado in the largest legislative body, owes answers to constituents who may have footed the bill for the travel during his tenure as Colorado’s chief executive. Indeed, if the former governor truly has nothing to hide, testifying before an independent commission should be a no-brainer.