Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) approved financial penalties for Senate candidate and former Governor John Hickenlooper (D) after the IEC found him guilty of two separate ethics violations. After requiring a subpoena to compel Hickenlooper’s testimony, the former governor ignored the request, which led the commission to hold him in contempt. The IEC deemed Hickenlooper guilty of two separate violations of Amendment 41 of Colorado's Constitution, which sets a cap on lawmakers' ability to accept gifts.
The IEC fined Hickenlooper a total of $2,750 for both ethics violations, after the former governor’s defense counsel lobbied to purge the contempt charge:
UNANIMOUS 4-0 (one abstained): John Hickenlooper has been penalized $2,200 for taking a private flight with MDC Holdings founder/homebuilder Larry Mizel, to the commissioning of the USS Colorado in Connecticut, while he was governor. #copolitics #9News— Marshall Zelinger (@Marshall9News) June 12, 2020
Hickenlooper’s penalty marks the highest in the history of the IEC, as the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) points out:
"The Ethics Commission's decision to order John Hickenlooper to pay the highest penalty in Commission history is an important step toward accountability," said NRSC spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez. "Hickenlooper violated the Colorado constitution, disrespected the rule of law, and forced the Commission to subpoena him and find him in contempt before answering their questions. Coloradans deserve better, and they deserve to be refunded for the hours billed as a result of Hickenlooper’s erratic behavior these past few weeks."
Hickenlooper faces a primary election, as he hopes to be nominated to take on GOP incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in November. Hickenlooper’s primary opponent, Andrew Romanoff, pointed to Hickenlooper’s ethics violations, which cost Colorado taxpayers a total of $127,000:
Ethics violations: $2,750— Andrew Romanoff (@Romanoff2020) June 12, 2020
Taxpayer-funded defense: $127,000
Never having to say you’re sorry:
There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s the @dscc. https://t.co/jPH3Hofnrt
Colorado’s primary is set for June 30; Hickenlooper’s candidacy is stained by the ethics violations, and his months-long avoidance of testifying to the IEC.