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Colorado ethics commission votes to hold Hickenlooper in contempt for failing to honor subpoena

Independent Ethics Commission will decide sanctions Friday
Colorado ethics commission votes to hold Hickenlooper in contempt for failing to honor subpoena
Posted at 3:54 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 21:19:49-04

DENVER – The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to hold former Gov. John Hickenlooper, currently a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, in contempt for failing to honor a subpoena requiring him to testify at an ethics hearing.

The five commissioners are expected to issue a decision on possible sanctions for Hickenlooper on Friday.

Hickenlooper was subpoenaed Monday by the commission to appear at the video hearing, which had already been rescheduled because of COVID-19, and a Denver judge upheld the subpoena Wednesday. His campaign has said that the hearing format does not offer the former governor due process and that there were concerns about a video conference hearing because of technological issues, some of which presented themselves during Thursday's hearing when people were talking while muted, had issues hearing one another and struggled to find solid internet connections at times.

Just before the hearing began Thursday, he filed an appeal again, and never showed up for testimony during the hearing, though his attorney, Mark Grueskin, was present.

Commissioners did not acquiesce to an offer to have Hickenlooper appear in-person on June 16. Grueskin has previously offered in-person testimony from Hickenlooper in August.

Thursday’s hearing was in regard to a Republican complaint made against Hickenlooper over trips on private planes while he was governor, which argues that he broke the state’s ban on gifts. Hickenlooper has denied the accusations.

The complaint against Hickenlooper and hearing, which his campaign has argued are politically-motivated, were watched closely by Hickenlooper’s Democratic primary opponent, Andrew Romanoff, and by Republican political consultants that have attacked Hickenlooper in the idea that he could win the primary and face Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., in November.

"As reported, today's meeting was a 'massive technical mess,' confirming concerns we've raised for months," Hickenlooper campaign spokesperson Melissa Miller said in a statement. "In order to put an end to the partisan political circus orchestrated by a dark money Republican group, governor Hickenlooper offered to testify, and though that was rejected, he remains ready to appear."

Romanoff said in a statement he believes Hickenlooper "should testify now."

"Coloradans deserve a chance to weigh the facts before they vote next week," he said.

State courts spokesperson Rob McCallum tweeted around 5:30 p.m. that Judge Christopher J. Baumann granted the petition to enforce the subpoena on Hickenlooper on Thursday afternoon.