Ethics

Keyser admits personal finance disclosures inaccurate and months late

Marianne Goodland (Colorado Independent)- U.S. Senate candidate and former state Rep. Jon Keyser of Morrison has another problem that his opponents claim goes to his credibility. And it’s no small deal – incomplete and missing financial disclosures that could carry criminal penalties.

State lawmakers and lawmaker wannabes are required every year to file personal financial disclosure documents that show their major assets, debts and sources of income for themselves and spouses.

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

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Councilman says he will start drafting changes to Denver Code of Ethics

Jon Murray (Denver Post)- Nearly two years after the Denver Board of Ethics started discussing changes to beef up conduct rules for the city’s elected officials and municipal employees, a city councilman says he plans to start drafting a proposal.

Councilman Kevin Flynn, who is in his first term, said his bill, to be filed in coming weeks or months, would incorporate the consensus from a Code of Ethics working group that has met for about six months. That group has included outgoing City Attorney Scott Martinez, who had questioned some of the ethics board’s proposals.

Click here to read the full story in the Denver Post.

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Terms of St. Francis Hospital sale included donations to a nonprofit foundation

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- Two years ago, the region’s most prolific developer, David Jenkins, bought the old St. Francis Hospital just east of downtown. It wasn’t a surprise, because Jenkins has been focused on invigorating the downtown area, and he saw the hospital as having potential for apartments.

But the purchase price was surprising: $50,000.

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

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“I’m a public servant, and I’m not a public slave.” Colorado DA defends 6 1/2 weeks vacation

Katy Canada (Denver Post)- Colorado’s 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown took more than 6½ weeks off work in 2015, an amount far greater than that taken by his senior attorneys and some of his peers.

Brown, elected in 2013 and seeking re-election this year, said the rules spelled out in the district’s time-off policy don’t apply to him because he’s an elected official. He also said he isn’t required to keep track of how many vacation days he takes.

Click here to read the full story in the Denver Post.

 

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Lawyer trying to get Jon Keyser on the ballot also represents the state GOP

Corey Hutchins (Colorado Independent)- The attorney who filed a lawsuit to help former lawmaker Jon Keyser secure a spot on the U.S. Senate Republican primary ballot also advises the Colorado Republican Party.

The state GOP pledges to remain neutral in Republican primaries. Party spokesman Kyle Kohli says there are only a handful of attorneys who do the kinds of political work needed by the party and by Keyser’s campaign. Others contacted for this story also pointed to the small pool of Republican election attorneys in Colorado.

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

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CO Supreme Court ends Rowland case

Today, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that decisions of the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) to dismiss a complaint as frivolous are not subject to judicial review. The ruling overturned a Denver District Court judge’s determination that a suit by Ethics Watch challenging the dismissal of a complaint against Elbert County Commissioner Robert Rowland, for voting to spend county funds on an appeal of a campaign finance award against him personally, could go forward. The Court ruled that a state statute authorizing judicial review of “any final action” by the IEC on a complaint could not constitutionally reach decisions by the IEC not to proceed on a complaint because the legislature does not have power to enact such a statute and because the IEC is barred from disclosing a complaint ruled frivolous even to a court.

In dissent, Justice Richard Gabriel stated that “the majority’s opinion undermines a primary purpose of the IEC, namely, to preserve public confidence in government.”

Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro issued the following statement: “Obviously we are disappointed with today’s decision. Notably, the Supreme Court did not rule that the IEC was correct to dismiss our complaint; they merely held that the action was beyond judicial review. The Supreme Court has granted sweeping power to the IEC; we can only hope the Commission uses this power wisely.”Colorado Supreme Court

Read the decision here: In re Colorado Ethics Watch v. Independent Ethics Commission

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Groups may take aim at Denver campaign finance, ethics rules

Jon Murray (Denver Post)- Colorado Common Cause and several other local groups say they soon may unveil a proposed ballot initiative aimed at reining in campaign contribution limits and creating a public financing system for Denver city elections.

“We’re at a historic point now in terms of both low faith in government and its accessibility to regular people,” says Peg Perl, senior counsel to Colorado Ethics Watch, which is among the groups working on the potential measure for city voters in November. Add to that the flood of money in last year’s municipal elections, when Mayor Michael Hancock raised more than $1.3 million and total contributions to city candidates surpassed $4 million, and Perl says the result for many voters is disillusionment.

Click here to read the full story in the Denver Post.

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Ethics Watch Comments on IEC Jurisdiction Over Home Rule Cities

Yesterday, Ethics Watch Senior Counsel Peg Perl addressed the Independent Ethics Commission as part of the Commission’s deliberations over its own jurisdiction over home rule cities. Ethics Watch also submitted two rounds of written comments in response to the Commission’s call for comments from the public.

Section 7 of Article XXIX of the Colorado Constitution provides that home rule jurisdictions are not subject to Commission jurisdiction if they “have adopted charters, ordinances, or resolutions that address the matters covered by this article.” Home rule jurisdictions are mostly cities, including Denver, Colorado Springs, and Aurora, that have adopted city charters that allow them to enact their own laws on matters that would otherwise be governed by state law.

The issue arose due to a request for advisory opinion by a state employee who is also an elected official of the City of Aurora who asked the Commission to advise her that she remains subject to state ethics laws despite her elected position with the City. The request gave the Commission insight about the larger questions about the interaction of home rule with Article XXIX.

Ethics Watch’s view is that Section 7 requires a home rule jurisdiction to have its own ethics board and some law restricting gifts, because those topics are covered in Article XXIX. Other groups also filed written comments or testified at the meeting. The Commission has collected written comments at this link.

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Court: Colorado’s GOP’s creation of super PAC was legal

James Anderson (Associated Press)-

A super PAC created by Colorado’s Republican Party to accept unlimited campaign contributions is legal as long as it doesn’t coordinate with the party, a state court said in an opinion released Thursday.

The Colorado Court of Appeals found that nothing in Colorado or federal law prevented the state GOP in 2014 from creating an independent spending committee that isn’t subject to spending limits that apply to political parties.

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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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