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Author Archives: COEthics

Should Denver taxpayers help candidates for local office pay for their campaigns?

Erica Meltzer (Denverite)- A group of Denver campaign finance reform advocates are trying to place an ordinance on the November ballot that would allow for public financing of municipal elections, reduce the amount of money candidates can take from individual donors and ban corporate and union donations.

Right now this effort is going by the motherhood-and-apple-pie title “Democracy for the People,” and proponents hope to start circulating petitions in a few weeks. Opponents say there are better uses for public dollars, but the backers of this measure point to evidence from other cities that public financing increases participation in politics by regular people. 

“This would modernize and reform local campaign finance laws to make sure it’s open and accessible and most importantly accountable to the people,” said Jon Biggerstaff, executive director of Clean Slate Now, the group behind the initiative. Biggerstaff ran unsuccessfully for the State Senate on a platform that prioritized campaign finance. Clean Slate Now was founded by former Colorado Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon to work on reducing the influence of money in politics.

Click here to read the full story in the Denverite.

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McCann cancels tour of crime lab for Denver Democrats’ fundraising group

Ernest Luning (Colorado Statesman)- Denver District Attorney Beth McCann on Monday cancelled a tour of the Denver Police Crime Lab scheduled later this week for members of a fundraising group tied to the Denver Democratic Party after a conservative organization raised a fuss.

Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado, sounded the alarm in a release Monday over an event publicized by the Denver Democrats’ Century Club — a group of donors to the county party who contribute specified amounts — billed as a “Members Only Event!!!” and a chance for supporters to “Get Your Inner CSI On!!!”

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Statesman.

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2 Boulder Planning Board members face possible conflicts ahead of vote on 1440 Pine St.

Alex Burness (Boulder Daily Camera)- Potential conflicts of interest for two Planning Board members loom over the board’s highly anticipated Thursday vote on whether to approve a controversial plan to build housing in downtown Boulder for 40 chronically homeless young adults.

Member Crystal Gray, whose longtime partner has been, for a year and a half, among the most outspoken opponents of the project, says she doesn’t plan to recuse herself from the hearing.

Her partner, John Spitzer, is a former Planning Board member, and has been one of the primary organizers of neighborhood opposition to the project, which has centered on the building’s density and height and on the opinion that homeless people ages 18-24 will be at further risk living in busy downtown.

Click here to read the full story in the Boulder Daily Camera.

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Colorado Open Records Act digital update bounds over last legislative hurdles

John Tomasic (Colorado Statesman)- The Colorado Open Records Act this year will receive a long-overdue digital-era update after Senate Bill 40 on Wednesday ended its switchback journey over the entire course of the 120-day legislative session Wednesday, finishing in the Senate with an against-all-odds unanimous vote of support.

“No one would have guessed it would receive all 35 votes in the Senate,” said sponsor Sen. John Kefalas, a Democrat from Fort Collins. “I think the bill does move the dial forward in meaningful ways and brings up the window just a tad in granting greater access to records that belong to the people.

“We have made progress. We haven’t hurt CORA. There’s more work to be done,” he said.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Statesman.

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Legislature approves open-records modernization, sends bill to governor’s desk

Jeffrey Roberts (Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition)- An 18-month push to update Colorado’s open-records law for the digital age culminated Wednesday in the final passage of a bill that clarifies the public’s right to copies of electronic government records in useful file formats that permit analysis of information in those records.

Senate Bill 17-040 heads to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk after passing the House on a 39-26 vote and then repassing the Senate unanimously, all on the last day of the 2017 legislative session.

The measure is intended to bar government entities from providing printouts of databases and spreadsheets when people ask for public records kept in databases and spreadsheets. No longer will governments be permitted to provide searchable records in non-searchable formats such as image-only PDFs.

Click here to read the full story in Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.

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Top Women Attorneys 2017: Peg Perl

Kaley LaQuea (Law Week Colorado)- When attorney Peg Perl moved to Colorado from Washington, D.C., after six years working in the government, she saw the opportunity to make a career change and focus on issues closer to home in the public interest.

“I wanted to really shift my focus from the 10,000-foot level of federal law and policy all the time to more state and local issues,” Perl said. “I wanted to shift into  the  nonprofit sector of public interest advocacy and advocate for citizens and good government work from the outside.”

So, she started her position as senior counsel for Colorado Ethics Watch in 2012. Perl’s work with Ethics Watch has focused on campaign finance, transparency measures for elected officials and engaging citizens in civics by making processes accessible and comprehensible. Perl also fills the role of program manager and spokesperson for Courts Matter Colorado, a coalition of roughly 25 organizations that serves to educate the public about federal courts and advocates for a fully staffed judiciary.

Click here to read the full story in Law Week Colorado.

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Watchdogs criticize Trump’s easing of ban on ‘politicking from the pulpit’

Nat Stein (Colorado Springs Independent)- At a press conference on May 4, President Donald Trump issued a directive, announcing his administration is taking “historic steps” to “give our churches their voices back.”

The order, titled “promoting free speech and religious liberty,” urges the end of the Obama-era requirement that employee-sponsored health plans cover birth control and directs the Treasury Department to “not take any adverse action” against individuals or organizations that engage in political speech from a religious perspective. (Remember, post-Citizens United, “speech” means spending.)

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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Halliburton In Colorado: Board Member’s Donation Shows Power Of Oil And Gas Industry

David Sirota (International Business Times)- A top fossil fuel industry official poured $40,000 into the Colorado Republican Party’s super PAC on the same day the state’s legislature began considering a bill to limit the oil and gas industry’s fracking and drilling near schools, according to state documents reviewed by International Business Times. Soon after the contribution from Halliburton board member J. Landis Martin, Republican lawmakers lined up against the legislation. They eventually killed it — days before a deadly blast at a home near an oil well in Northeastern Colorado.

Halliburton has a large presence in Colorado. The company says it employs 1,900 people in operations across the state; it bankrolled a 2012 effort to defeat municipal fracking regulations in the state; and it has a top executive on the executive board of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association —  an industry lobbying group that fought the setback legislation, according to state records. (Halliburton is a member of the COGA and has touted its links to the group in the past.)

Click here to read the full story in International Business Times.

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One year later, predatory lenders are laying low in Colorado

One year after Ethics Watch published its Shark Attack report on predatory lender spending on Colorado politics, the industry has significantly reduced its profile. With no bills affecting the industry on this year’s legislative agenda, industry participants do not appear to have spent any money on lobbying as of the April 15 reporting deadline. Political contributions were also down during the 2016 election cycle, with only about $13,000 spent by industry participants.

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FRACTURED: Roughneck politics

Daniel Glick and Ted Woods (Colorado Independent)- Advocates for tighter controls on the oil and gas industry who have appeared at Colorado’s gold-domed statehouse recently say that the oil and gas industry is increasingly behaving like the National Rifle Association.

Like the NRA, which vigorously opposes any legislation restricting gun ownership, the oil and gas industry in Colorado steadfastly opposes new legislation it perceives would inconvenience its operators.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Independent.

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