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Ethics Commission looking into complaint about Governor Hickenlooper

Posted at 12:22 PM, Dec 18, 2018
John Hickenlooper
Photo of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

DENVER – A complaint against Governor Hickenlooper is being looked into by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission next month.

A group with ties to Republicans filed a complaint on October 12th, with the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission alleging that he repeatedly accepted prohibited travel and gifts, in violation of the State Constitution and Colorado law.

The complaint, filed by the Public Trust Institute, also alleges Hickenlooper made efforts to conceal the travel and gifts. To back this claim, the Public Trust Institute provided dozens of pages of redacted travel schedules.

The complaint calls for the ethics commission to investigate Hickenlooper. “This Complaint demonstrates the enormous scope of these violations, which requires a complete review of Governor Hickenlooper’s travel activities that may violate” the State Constitution and Colorado law. Gov. Hickenlooper’s office issued a brief statement that called the complaint a “political stunt.”

“It looks like the organization was created in the last few days to trump up frivolous accusations,” said Jacque Montgomery, the governor’s press secretary. “They ignored the Independent Ethics Commission process by going straight to the media. This is clearly a political stunt aimed at influencing the upcoming election.” Hickenlooper is exploring the possibility of a presidential run on 2020. The Public Trust Institute is headed by Frank McNulty, a Republican who is a former Speaker of the House in the General Assembly. He and Hickenlooper have clashed on policy in the past.

The complaint alleges that Hickenlooper accepted improper travel on private or corporate jets on several occasions to destinations around the country and across the globe. It documents a trip to Italy, characterized as “extravagant”, along with trips on private or corporate jets to Connecticut, Texas, California and Wyoming.

The Public Trust Institute provided several pages of what it says are Hickenlooper’s travel schedules. Several are redacted, in whole or in part. The complaint alleges Hickenlooper tried to hide his improper travel by redacting private and corporate travel from the schedules.

The complaint says the institute was able to deduce the redactions pertain to improper travel. It cites entries for private airports and private aircraft that were not redacted. The complaint says Hickenlooper’s legitimate travel is not redacted.

The complaint documents private jet travel it says Hickenlooper took from Vail to California to attend Super Bowl 50, which the Denver Broncos won. The complaint says the trip “raised significant secondary concerns, such as whether the owner of the private jet, or some other individual or corporation, also paid for Governor Hickenlooper’s Super Bowl tickets, ground transportation to and from the private jet, and other costs.”

The complaint documents several trips it says Hickenlooper took on Liberty Media’s private jet. Liberty Media is a large Colorado-based company, with significant business interests that could be impacted by Colorado laws and regulations.

The complaint also says Hickenlooper traveled on Liberty Media’s private jet to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum four times from 2012 to 2017 and that he traveled domestically several times on the company’s jet.

Ethics Commission rules require that the commission keep the complaint confidential until a determination is made. If a complaint is determined to be frivolous, the commission will maintain confidentiality. The violations alleged in the complaint are public because the Public Trust Institute released them to news media.

A meeting is set for January 14th.