Ethics Watch Supports Proposed Transparency Reforms in Denver

Ethics Watch Supports Proposed Transparency Reforms in Denver

This week, Ethics Watch Senior Counsel Peg Perl presented public comment at the Denver City Council Finance and Governance Committee in favor of two transparency bills sponsored by Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson. Colorado Common Cause also spoke in support and both groups were included in stakeholders consulted by the Clerk during the development of the bills.

The first bill would transition financial and gift disclosures filed by Denver City Officials into a more efficient electronic filing system, require annual financial reports to be filed every January for the prior year (instead of August), and require City Officials to file gift reports quarterly, like state officials. Quarterly gift reports would be proactively published on the Clerk’s website for public viewing each quarter, and annual financial reports would remain public records subject to disclosure upon request. The reform bill would also eliminate a provision requiring the Clerk to keep a log of public requests for viewing of these reports and to notify a City Official whenever a citizen viewed their reports.

The second bill streamlines and enhances transparency for lobbyist reports filed by those who lobby Denver City Officials. The reforms would move lobbyist reporting from a paper system to electronic filing and the Clerk would post on the City website both lobbyist registrations and bimonthly lobbyist reports. The bill also clarifies the details required to be reported by a lobbyist with regard to the clients they serve and gifts provided to City Officials for purposes of lobbying.

After numerous questions, but general support from City Council members on the committee, the Clerk will be making revisions to the bill. Video of this week’s committee meeting is available for viewing here (public comment begins around the 38 minute mark). The committee stated that it intends to take action on the revised bills in November. Ethics Watch believes these reforms would increase transparency in Denver City Government and enhance citizen trust in their local leaders.

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