9News NEXT WITH KYLE CLARK – Colorado Ethics Watch will close up shop after eleven years. The state’s watchdog “identified breaches in ethic codes and campaign finance law, worked towards legislative fixes in accountability and transparency, and monitored the activities of the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission,” according to their website.
Luis Toro, executive director of Ethics Watch, sat down for an interview with Next with Kyle Clark to talk about who will now watch on behalf of Coloradans when the group closes its doors at the end of the year.
Q: Who’s watching the ethics at that point?
A: We’re hoping that we’ve already paved the way to have citizens help enforce ethics law because what’s unique about Colorado is that ordinary citizens and private groups are expected to enforce campaign finance and ethics laws at their own expense so when we started in 2006, we can really say if ethics watch didn’t do it no one would, and that’s really not true anymore. We’ve seen a record number of ethics complaints filed this year with the state ethics commission and we didn’t file any of them.
Other people are also filing campaign finance complaints, we’ve kind of shown that it could be done and as far as that work goes, we haven’t been filing much and other people have so that’s really our core area that we have to worry about being taking care of and other than that, the work we’ve done in transparency can be done by the Freedom of Information Coalition, a lot of the legislative work we’ve done, we could look to the Common Cause to continue to carry that torch, so I feel confident that the work we’ve done is not going to fall by the wayside.
Click here to read the full story on 9News.
Jeffrey Roberts (Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition)- Colorado Ethics Watch is closing its doors after 11 years of helping Coloradans hold public officials accountable and winning some significant battles for government transparency in the state legislature and in court.
“We basically worked ourselves out of a job,” said Luis Toro, executive director of Ethics Watch since 2010. “We raised awareness of the fact that in Colorado you need private parties to enforce the ethics laws, and we paved the way in showing people how to do that.”
Of a record 41 complaints filed so far this year with the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission, “none of those are from us,” Toro said. “It’s no longer true that if we don’t file a complaint, nobody will.”
Click here to read the full story on the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
Marianne Goodland (Colorado Politics)- Colorado Ethics Watch, the left-leaning ethics advocacy group that has spent the last decade making sure Colorado’s campaign finance and ethics laws are followed, announced Thursday it will cease operations at the end of 2017.
The shutdown is a financial matter, said Colorado Ethics Watch Executive Director Luis Toro. “It’s harder for us to justify our existence now that citizens can file their own complaints,” he told Colorado Politics. He also cited the national political atmosphere over ethics, stating the attention being paid to President Trump and his ethics issues leaves little room for ethics concerns at the state level.
Attorney Chantell Taylor started Ethics Watch in August 2006, just three months before Colorado voters adopted Amendment 41, the constitutional amendment that dictates ethics rules for elected officials. In 2008, Toro joined Ethics Watch; he became its executive director in 2010.
Click here to read the full story in Colorado Politics.
Susan Green (Colorado Independent)- Colorado Ethics Watch, the nonprofit that has made transparency and accountability in state and local government its business since 2006, is shutting down in December. The Independent checked in with executive director Luis Toro on Wednesday to discuss why, and what his group’s closure means for our square, swing state.
The Indy: Sad news, Luis. We and other news outlets count on Ethics Watch and your work. What happened?
Toro: After 11 years of doing this, the model we’ve been operating under isn’t really necessary anymore. When we first started, we were bringing awareness to the fact that in Colorado, we have private party enforcement, meaning that private citizens, not state officials, investigate ethics complaints. We’ve shown people how to pursue ethics complaints and now they’re doing them on their own. This has been a big year for complaints with the Ethics Commission – 47 filed so far, I believe. I think that’s a record number. And none of them were filed by us.
Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Independent.
Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- Colorado Ethics Watch will close its doors on Dec. 31 due to funding difficulties, executive director Luis Toro tells the Indy.
“We’ve always been teetering on the brink of extinction for the whole time, and it finally happened,” he says.
The agency, who serves as a watchdog over various government activities, opened on Aug. 1, 2006. It’s been funded largely through national grants.
Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.
Corey Hutchins (Colorado Independent)- Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton officially waded into the large field for governor with a low-key weekend announcement on social media and the launch of a campaign website.
The only real news for close watchers of Colorado politics is that the second-term office-holder, who is a cousin of George H.W. Bush, finally made his bid official. His entrance adds an established current Republican statewide officeholder with access to big money into a large race where some candidates are jockeying for the “outsider” mantle in the era of Donald Trump.
For months, a Super PAC-like group called Better Colorado Now has been raising money, ostensibly to support Stapleton’s gubernatorial bid, a controversial arrangement since Stapleton had associated himself with the group prior to announcing his run. Campaign finance laws forbid candidates from coordinating with PACs, but since he hadn’t yet made his candidacy official, he could get as close to the PAC as he wanted, even helping it raise money. Stapleton also got a boost from another group, which gave him free statewide publicity in an ad campaign supporting term limits.
Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Independent.
Today, Colorado Ethics Watch submitted comments on proposed changes to the Campaign and Political Finance Rules. Secretary of State Wayne Williams issued the proposed rules on August 30, 2017 and invited comment.
Ethics Watch commented on two aspects of the proposed rules. First, it supported the Secretary’s effort to clarify the difference between political committees and independent expenditure committees and urged him to include in the rules a statement that political committees may make contributions to candidates and political parties but independent expenditure committees may not. Second, it opposed the Secretary’s rollback of a rule allowing Coloradans to file campaign finance complaints by fax or email. It urged the Secretary to restore email filing, or at a minimum, to establish rules permitting filing by mail or private delivery service.
Click here to read Ethics Watch’s comments.
David Krieger (Boulder Daily Camera)- The Boulder County commissioners’ Sept. 10 rebuttal to our Aug. 27 editorial, “A rigged county bid process,” was long on issues not argued in the editorial and short on responses to the issues it did raise. Much of the rebuttal was spent recounting how widely the county circulated two requests for proposals to conduct an agricultural study on county-owned land. No one contested the circulation of the RFPs.
What we contested were the ethics of a process in which county commissioners explicitly recruited a bidder — the Rodale Institute of Kutztown, Pa. — with a well-known political agenda in an attempt to preordain the outcome of the study. Disingenuously, the commissioners argued that Rodale is a “well-known research organization” without ever acknowledging it is also a well-known advocate of organic farming. We have nothing against organic farming, but we believe if you want to conduct an unbiased study of sustainable agriculture in Boulder County’s semi-arid climate, you do not predetermine the outcome by recruiting an organization with a political agenda.
Click here to read the full story in the Boulder Daily Camera.