Colorado ethics panel plans to move quickly on Hickenlooper complaint

While the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission has not yet received a response from Gov. John Hickenlooper on the ethics complaint filed against him in October, Commissioner Bill Leone predicted Monday that the panel will move quickly on the complaint.

Former Republican Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, along with his newly-formed Public Trust Institute, filed a lengthy complaint against Hickenlooper, alleging he traveled to a number of events with travel expenses paid for by private parties.

The complaint claimed that the governor violated Amendment 41, the voter-approved ethics law, which puts strict limits on the value of gifts an elected official can receive. The current limit is $59 per year per person or organization.

The Hickenlooper administration has said little about the complaint, other than to deny wrongdoing and to say that the Public Trust Institute was formed to “trump up frivolous accusations. … This is clearly a political stunt aimed at influencing the upcoming election.”

According to the commission, which met Monday, the governor has a deadline of Wednesday to file a response to the complaint, although the panel indicated he could seek more time.

However, should the governor ask for extra time to respond, that is not expected to interfere with the commission’s timeline for proceeding with the complaint.

Leone, in discussing the potential time extension, told his fellow commissioners that “this case needs to be dealt with as quick[ly] as we can,” and that they intend to begin working on the complaint in their next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 17.

Hickenlooper leaves office in a few weeks.

There’s also the issue of who will become the complaint’s hearing officer. That commissioner takes on something of a judicial role, including running the hearing when the time comes, but on Monday set aside a decision on who would fill that role.

Hickenlooper appointed two members of the commission (Leone, in 2o13 and more recently, Elizabeth Krupa, last August). In addition, Leone, Krupa and commission Chair April Jones have all made contributions to Hickenlooper’s election bids. All contributions were made before any of the three were on the commission.

The governor’s office did not reply to a request on the timing for the governor’s response.

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