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Transparency

Ken Witt launches “political stunt” filing meaningless ethics complaint against himself

Marianne Goodland (The Colorado Independent)- Jeffco School Board President Ken Witt Thursday said he would seek an advisory opinion with the Colorado Ethics Commission over possible violations by the board on the state’s open meetings law.

Problem is, the Ethics Commission will never act on his request.

Witt made his announcement Thursday morning before a room of reporters, stating he was “calling the bluff” of those who support the recall of himself, Julie Williams and John Newkirk, the three-member conservative board majority on the five-member Jefferson County School Board.

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Donors’ identities concealed in school board campaigns

Gabrielle Porter (Canyon Courier)- Groups on both sides of the contentious Jeffco school board recall election have employed funding methods that conceal donors’ identities.

Since efforts to recall conservative board members John Newkirk, Ken Witt and Julie Williams were launched in late June, Jeffco residents have been inundated with information from both sides.

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Watchdog group calls out Klingenschmitt on nonprofit fundraising

Paul Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- Gordon Klingenschmitt, the highly controversial Republican state representative from Colorado Springs, again is under fire — not for outlandish remarks about gays and lesbians as in the past, but for allegedly using his for-profit business to drum up money for his nonprofit, even as it was under suspension by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Klingenschmitt, who represents House District 15 in El Paso County, allegedly used for-profit GJK Inc. to solicit funds for his nonprofit Persuade the World/Pray in Jesus Name during the nonprofit’s suspension from Oct. 15, 2014, to Jan. 28, 2015, as previously reported by The Colorado Independent, a news website.

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State Supreme Court weighs Colorado Ethics Commission’s secrecy

Marianne Goodland (The Colorado Independent)-

The Colorado Supreme Court now has two cases before it that could either affirm or weaken the authority of the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission to keep much of its work reviewing ethics complaints against public officials out of the public eye.

The first case is an appeal from former Secretary of State Scott Gessler over an ethics commission ruling that Gessler improperly used taxpayer money to attend a Republican Party function. The second case, from the commission itself, is a lawsuit against Colorado Ethics Watch. The commission has asked the court to uphold the panel’s right to dismiss frivolous complaints without further judicial review.

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

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Local government emails in Ashley Madison database

Jeremy Jojola (9News) – Taxpayers may also be getting cheated as government employees use their official work accounts to conduct extramarital affairs.

9Wants to Know found numerous local government email accounts in the Ashley Madison database acquired and uploaded by hackers.

“Any kind of misuse, including for your own personal affairs is something that should be avoided,” said Luis Toro of Colorado Ethics Watch, a government watchdog group. “Government emails, government resources at your computer are supposed to be used for public business only.”

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Cynthia Coffman’s private-meeting invitation irks SW Colorado public officials

Susan Greene (Colorado Independent) –

At the peak of the Animas River crisis, Cynthia Coffman reached out to the Durango City Council and La Plata County Commission and invited each member to dinner. But several of her would-be guests didn’t appreciate what the state Attorney General planned to serve up.

Some are blasting Coffman for ignoring Colorado’s open meetings law. As the state’s top law enforcement official, they say, she should have known better than to try to gather them together in a closed meeting.

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

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Administrative judge orders CCL, RMGO to disclose electioneering money

In a case filed by Ethics Watch, a Colorado administrative judge has ordered Colorado Campaign for Life (CCL) and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) to pay $8500 each in fines to the state and file disclosures of spending and earmarked contributions for mailings that attacked and supported candidates in two Republican state Senate primaries in June 2014.

Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer agreed with Ethics Watch that mailers sent by CCL and RMGO to Republican primary voters attacking candidates Lang Sias and Mario Nicolais and supporting candidates Laura Woods and Tony Sanchez were “electioneering communications” under Colorado law because the two groups spent over $1000 each to contact voters with mailers naming identified canddates in the last thirty days before the primary election. The two groups were fined $8500 each, representing $50 per day from the date disclosures were required (on July 1) through the filing of the suit. [Correction: The fine was $8450 each.]

CCL and RMGO hired a Washington, DC-area law firm to file a federal lawsuit against Ethics Watch and the Colorado Secretary of State to block the hearing, argung that Colorado’s disclosure law is unconstitutional. On December 16, federal judge Robert E. Blackburn allowed the case to proceed in state administrative court, noting that Judge Spencer has jurisdiction to resolve at least some of CCL’s and RMGO’s First Amendment challenges to Colorado law. In his ruling, Judge Spencer rejected all of CCL’s and RMGO’s arguments that the First Amendment allows them to electioneer without obeying Colorado disclosure laws about money in politics.

“The First Amendment is meant to help an informed people govern themselves. It is not a tool for special interests to manipulate the political process in secret,” said Luis Toro, Director of Ethics Watch. “It is time for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and Colorado Campaign for Life to pay their fines and obey the law like everyone else who spends money to electioneer in the last days before an election.”

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