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Author Archives: COEthics

No ‘smoking gun’ in Glendale

Peter Jones (The Villager)-

A recreational-marijuana store called the Smokin’ Gun is smoldering at the center of the latest controversy to hit Glendale, but the elected leader says his fingerprints won’t be found.

Mayor Mike Dunafon disputes a complaint from the nonprofit, Colorado Ethics Watch, which accuses the city leader of not appropriately recusing himself last year from a City Council vote approving Smokin’ Gun, a new pot-retail outlet owned by his now-wife.

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Colorado’s newest pot shop tied to strip club and mayor

Kristen Wyatt (Associated Press)-

Colorado’s newest pot shop has some wondering whether strippers and weed are too closely aligned on a busy highway just east of downtown Denver.

The Smokin Gun Apothecary opened on a site formerly occupied by the Denver area’s best known strip club, Shotgun Willie’s. The strip club hasn’t gone away — it’s moved just across the parking lot, testing ethical and potentially legal issues about the state’s growing legal recreational pot industry.

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Anadarko appoints “brand ambassadors” to fight off drilling bans

Jennifer Oldman (Bloomberg Business)-

Windsor High School junior Kamille Hocking worried a dozen oil wells on her family’s 132-acre Colorado homestead might sicken them. Then, Rebecca Johnson, an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. engineer, used a blender in her chemistry class to show the interaction of swirling frack sand, city water and friction reducer.

“We heard a lot of stories about how it could get into the water and pollute the land,” said Hocking, who is 16. “I’m going to tell my parents that fracking fluid only makes cracks in the rock the size of a hair that the sand gets into and holds open.”

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Ethics complaint filed for Glendale mayor’s vote regarding wife’s marijuana dispensary

Brendaliss Gonzalez (Denver Channel)- Colorado Ethics Watch claims the mayor had a financial interest when he cast the vote.

According to the city council minutes taken at the meeting on Feb. of 2015, Mayor Mike Dunafon originally recused himself from the vote concerning granting the approval to open the Smokin’ Gun Apothecary next to Shotgun Willie’s, a strip club also owned by the mayor’s wife.

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Ethics complaint filed against Glendale mayor for pot shop vote

Carlos Illescas (Denver Post)- Colorado Ethics Watch has filed a complaint with the city of Glendale, asking that the City Council censure Mayor Mike Dunafon after he voted to approve a plan for a new recreational marijuana store owned by his now-wife.

His wife, Debbie Matthews, is majority owner of the Smokin Gun, a recreational marijuana store on Colorado Boulevard that is scheduled to open as soon as next week.

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Ethics Watch Files Complaint Against Glendale Mayor

On Friday, Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the Glendale City Council against Mayor Mike Dunafon. The complaint alleges that on February 3, 2015, Mayor Dunafon cast the tie-breaking vote to approve a site development plan and special use permit for a marijuana retail store owned by his wife – after having first recused himself due to the conflict of interest. The complaint also alleges that Dunafon voted to approve a liquor license renewal for a bar owned by his wife in April, 2015.

“The City of Glendale should not be run for the benefit of Mayor Dunafon and his family,” said Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “We are calling upon the City Council to pass a resolution of censure so that nothing like this happens again.”

Glendale is a home rule city with an ethics code vesting authority in the City Council to hear ethics complaints against Glendale officials, including the Mayor and City Council members themselves.

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The CORA buck stops nowhere

Luis Toro (The Colorado Statesman)- Last November, the State Integrity Investigation released its report card grading the 50 states on various measures of good government. Colorado placed 13th overall, receiving high marks for our budget and auditing processes. Despite our ranking among the states, many of Colorado’s grades were embarrassing. Colorado placed 44th for ethics enforcement, below even some states that don’t have ethics commissions, with a failing grade. The state also placed 34th, with a letter grade of “F,” for public access to documents.

The State Integrity Investigation is an analysis of state government transparency and accountability conducted by the Center for Public Integrity. The project highlights areas that lead to decreased citizen confidence in government and increased risk of corruption.

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Federal lawsuit attacks Colorado’s money-in-politics enforcement system

Corey Hutchins (The Colorado Independent)-

Want to know who’s making sure Coloradans are obeying the state’s campaign finance laws? Look in the mirror.

The Centennial State has long been unique in having a money-in-politics system watchdogged not by trained investigators or regulators, but by average citizens. It’s called private-party enforcement, and under that system citizens here have to bring complaints themselves against those in power they feel might be violating the law.

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Citizens will suffer if political parties extend Citizens United even further

Peg Perl (Harvard Law & Policy Review)-

Today is the sixth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The electorate has survived three election cycles of being bombarded by advertising funded by almost unlimited amounts of outside group spending in candidate races from local school board to President of the United States, most of it minimally disclosed—if at all. Yet, the major political parties are arguing publicly that they—not the voters—are the true victims of the Citizens United ruling.

As early as 2010, there was some argument that keeping political parties subject to contribution limitations and prohibitions while also enforcing robust public disclosure would harm parties vis a vis outside groups. National as well as some state-level Republican Party committees brought federal lawsuits immediately after Citizens United challenging limitations on political party contributions on constitutional grounds. The Fifth Circuit rejected the challenge, stating “we do not read Citizens United as changing how this court should evaluate contribution limits on political parties and PACs.” The special three-judge panel set up to rule on challenges to modern campaign finance law also upheld political party contribution limits, and the U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed on direct appeal. The three-judge panel in that case told the parties that the arguments about disparity between political parties and outside groups in spending and contribution restrictions was not a constitutional violation, but instead a policy argument to be made to Congress.

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Outside counsel contracts for jail abuse case raise questions

Arthur Kane (ColoradoWatchdog.org)-

Two Denver city contracts issued to law firms with close ties to Denver City Attorney Scott Martinez raise questions about timing, billing and whether they were bid.

Martinez’s office hired Faegre Baker Daniels and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in June 2014 to handle a lawsuit by Jamal Hunter, who said he was assaulted by fellow Denver jail inmates with the knowledge and encouragement of a deputy.

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