Democratic Governor Hires Health Care Industry Lobbyist to Push Obamacare Fixes In Congress

David Sirota (International Business Times)- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), who is leading the push for an insurer-friendly alternative to Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” proposal, has hired a Washington lobbying firm that represents insurers and other health care industry companies and groups opposed to single-payer health care. The firm was hired by Hickenlooper’s government office to lobby on health care after it helped bankroll the Democratic governor’s election campaign.

According to federal records reviewed by International Business Times, the Colorado governor’s office in March hired Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck — a lobbying powerhouse whose lobbyist Doug Friednash became the governor’s chief of staff in 2015. The governor’s office has paid the firm at least $70,000 since March to lobby for Hickenlooper. The firm’s work for the governor has involved lobbying Congress, the Interior Department, the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency on “issues related to federal spending and national service programs.” Brownstein Hyatt has also lobbied federal lawmakers on health care on behalf of Hickenlooper.

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

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Editorial: The county’s ag study dilemma

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.

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Ethics expert: No saving Boulder County’s GMO transition RFP

Shay Castle (Boulder Daily Camera)-  A controversial proposal to create a research center to help Boulder County gradually remove GMO crops from county-owned farm lands may have to be scrapped for a second time amid claims that the county has mishandled the bids.

An attorney for area farmers, who has been critical of the process, on Thursday sent a letter to county commissioners requesting that they invalidate a bid from Colorado State University, on the ground that an employee helped shape the contract on which the university is now bidding.

“The situation is hard to salvage at this point,” said Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “The best course would be to vacate the deadline (and) start over from scratch.”

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

 

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Denver proposal aims to force disclosure of independent spending as “dark money” trickles down

Companies, groups and other big spenders who work to support or defeat candidates and ballot measures in Denver’s local elections increasingly are operating in the shadows, city officials and good-government advocates say.

Less than two years before the next municipal election, a Denver City Council proposal seeks to close transparency gaps that allow such spending to go unreported as long as the people behind it don’t coordinate directly with a candidate’s campaign.

Such activity by super PAC-style groups has mushroomed in federal and state elections since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 took the handcuffs off independent spending by corporations and labor unions, making restrictions on them unconstitutional.

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

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Rug store flap weaves an ethics tapestry between Glendale and state watchdogs

Marianne Goodland (Colorado Politics)- An ethics complaint lodged against a former Glendale city councilman has turned into a can of worms for the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission over whether home-rule cities that have their own ethics codes have the final say over ethics complaints.

The ethics issue dates back to 2016, when MAK Investment Group of Glendale filed an ethics complaint with the city against then-city councilman Jeff Allen. The complaint alleged Allen, who also serves as CEO of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, improperly voted on the city’s budget, which includes funding for the chamber.

Click here to read the full story in Colorado Politics.

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Emails raise ethical questions about Colorado lawmaker. But he says there’s nothing to see.

Jesse Paul (Denver Post)- A top Republican state lawmaker appeared to suggest wielding his political influence to help or harm a business partner in an email exchange that led up to a lawsuit now pending in federal court, but he says his words have been taken out of context.

Ray Scott of Grand Junction, currently the No. 4 Republican in the state Senate, made the remarks in 2012 as part of a dispute with Montigo Del Ray Corp., a custom fireplace company, about its decision to remove his business as a regional representative for states including Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

Scott is founder of Gas Products Corporation, which sells high-end heating equipment for luxury homes and commercial applications, and at the time, served as a state representative with a focus on energy issues. Gas Products, according to the lawsuit, handled area business for the Canada-based Montigo.

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

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Money in politics: Denver campaign finance rules targeted for update

Adam McCoy (Colorado Politics)- If money could talk, its voice would arguably be deafening in politics. In the interest of added transparency for money in municipal elections, Denver election officials have proposed some changes to the city’s campaign finance rules.

The proposed revisions to campaign contribution regulations in local politics would refine and add some key terms in its law; establish a structure for reporting campaign ads (TV, radio, etc.) from candidates or outside groups and, for the first time in Denver, institute fines for candidates who fail to file campaign finance reports on time, city Director of Elections Amber McReynolds said. The changes are expected to be rolled out for the 2019 election cycle.

Click here to read the full story in Colorado Politics.

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Sheriff Bill Elder seeks second term, and political races shaping up

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- Sheriff Bill Elder will seek a second term in El Paso County, having filed for re-election in the 2018 election way back on March 24.

But there does appear to be a snag: Elder’s campaign candidate affidavit filed with the Secretary of State lists his residential phone as a number that rings to his office at the Sheriff’s Office. That’s curious, given that campaigns and official business aren’t supposed to mix.

Reached at that phone number, Elder says, “I don’t have a home phone.” Asked if he has a cell phone he could have listed, he says, “I have a personal cell phone, but I’m not putting my personal cell phone on it. I’d get all kinds of crank calls.”

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

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Ethics Watch Supports Denver Campaign Finance Reform

Yesterday, the Denver Clerk and Recorder’s office submitted proposed language for an ordinance to update the City’s campaign finance disclosure system and improve enforcement. The language was the product of a working group that included Colorado Ethics Watch. Ethics Watch Executive Director Luis Toro released the following statement:

“We thank Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson for devoting her office’s time and energy to the important task of modernizing and improving Denver’s campaign finance ordinance. We hope City Council will see that, with input from members of the working group, the proposal balances the burden on candidates and outside groups to correctly track and report their contributions and spending with the people’s right to cast an informed ballot.”

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Jared Polis, Walker Stapleton, and Colorado’s low campaign cash limits

Corey Hutchins (Colorado Independent) – Two recent events that shifted the ground under Colorado’s sprawling candidate field for governor have lent scrutiny to the rules governing how money is raised and spent in Colorado’s gubernatorial elections.
First was the recent unexpected mic-drop exit of Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter— a move that stunned political observers. The formidable campaigner, and a perhaps a front-runner in the race at the time, abandoned his bid in part because of Colorado’s low campaign contribution limits that make it hard to battle against a self-funding candidate.
Perlmutter just didn’t have the “fire in the belly” to run for governor while serving as a congressman, he said, and noted his decision “accelerated” after his colleague, the multi-millionaire tech-entrepreneur Jared Polis of Boulder, got in the race. Polis, who is one of the richest members of Congress, will use his vast personal wealth to bankroll his campaign instead of having to spend time raising money in a state with low campaign contribution limits.
Now, this week on the Republican side, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton revealed a strategy that cribs from the playbook of his second cousin Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign and highlights an increasing nationalization of state politics. Stapleton, who has not filed paperwork to run for governor, might be holding off doing so in order to raise money outside of the state’s low limits, according to a story in The Denver Post.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Colorado Independent.

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