Tag Archives: Denver

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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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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Denver lobbyists are reporting few expenses

Mike McKibbin (Colorado Statesman) – Monthly lobbyist financial reports required by the City and County of Denver, designed to help the public know who is lobbying City Council members on what issues, are commonly submitted with no reported expenditures, a review of the documents by the The Colorado Statesman has found.

While no wrongdoing or rules violations are thought to have occurred, the city ordinance that regulates lobbyists by requiring registration and the reports does not identify specific oversight. Like many other areas of municipal and state regulations, it is basically a self-reporting arrangement that is only investigated upon complaint, according to Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell.

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

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The times, they are a changin’: Denver lobbyists, elected officials to face new disclosure requirements

Mike McKibbin (Colorado Statesman)- Annual and monthly disclosure reports by elected officials, city employees and lobbyists registered with the City and County of Denver would see several changes under proposed regulations from the city clerk and recorder.

The City Council’s Finance and Governance committee took a first look at the proposed changes from Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson at its Oct. 4 meeting and asked for several revisions Johnson will present in November.

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

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Political consultant files legal challenge to stop Denver campaign finance reform proposal

A proposed Denver ballot initiative aimed at reining in big-donor campaign contributions and setting up a public financing system for city elections now faces a challenge in court.

While backers that include Colorado Common Cause and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) are working to collect nearly 5,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot, David Kenney — a political consultant and lobbyist who is active in the business community — recently filed a challenge in Denver District Court.

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

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Attorney Frank Azar pours money into another DA race

Marianne Goodland (Colorado Independent)- Why is local attorney and famed ambulance-chaser Frank Azar so interested in who runs the district attorney offices in at least two districts?

Azar is the biggest contributor to an independent expenditure committee that backs University of Colorado Regent Michael Carrigan in his primary run for the Denver District Attorney office. He faces state Rep. Beth McCann and current assistant Denver District Attorney Kenneth Boyd in the June 28 contest.

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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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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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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