Independent Commission Finds Hickenlooper Guilty on Two Ethics Violations

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Posted: Jun 05, 2020 10:25 PM
Independent Commission Finds Hickenlooper Guilty on Two Ethics Violations

Source: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

Colorado Senate candidate John Hickenlooper was found guilty of ethics violations by an Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) after the former governor refused to confront the allegations for months. The ethics complaint accused Hickenlooper of accepting inappropriate gifts and travel excursions during his tenure as governor, but the Colorado Democrat called the claims "frivolous" and avoided cooperating with the commission. Hickenlooper's avoidance went as far as to require a subpoena to compel his testimony, which he ignored, and was voted to be held in contempt by the commission yesterday. While Hickenlooper avoided confronting the claims, his legal defense was bankrolled by Colorado taxpayers via a post-9/11 economic relief fund.

On Friday night, the IEC found that Hickenlooper violated Amendment 41 of Colorado's Constitution, which sets a limit on lawmakers' ability to accept gifts, on two separate occasions in the year 2018.

Hickenlooper's campaign and advisors also repeatedly dismissed the merits of the initial complaint, which was filed by the Public Trust Institute, a GOP-associated group. Hickenlooper's campaign spokeswoman, Melissa Miller, said in January that the charges were "politically motivated attacks" from the GOP group and that Hickenlooper's eventual testimony "will make that abundantly clear."

Only two of the alleged violations were found to be true by the IEC, which Hickenlooper's spokeswoman now claims is a win, after the former governor had to be compelled to testify:

Hickenlooper repeatedly claimed that he was innocent of the charges, but avoided the IEC's requests and ignored the eventual subpoena until it was enforced.

"Hickenlooper has spent the last week refusing to testify, ignoring subpoenas, and being found in contempt because he didn’t want to answer for his serious disregard for Colorado's ethics laws," said NRSC spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez. "He is guilty of shrugging off the state's ethics rules and violating the trust taxpayers had placed in him as Governor. Now he has to defend taxpayers footing the bill for his $525-an-hour lawyer out of a post-9/11 economic recovery fund."

The IEC will decide next week what the Senate hopeful's sanctions will be. Hickenlooper also faces Colorado's senate primary election on June 30, with a progressive challenger hoping to upset the former governor for the nomination.