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Colorado governor disputes ethics complaint over his travel

November 22, 2018

DENVER (AP) — NEWSNOW

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says he hasn’t violated state ethics rules on travel, contending he personally paid for some of the trips that a former state lawmaker questioned.

The Denver Post reports Hickenlooper filed a response Wednesday to a complaint by a nonprofit headed by former state lawmaker Frank McNulty.

Hickenlooper, who will leave office in January, is a Democrat. McNulty is a Republican.

McNulty’s group filed a complaint with the state Independent Ethics Commission in October, citing dozens of flights Hickenlooper has taken since he assumed office in 2011.

Hickenlooper’s response acknowledged he accepted free jet travel four times in 2018 but said each was a personal gift from a close friend and was allowed by state guidelines.

Hickenlooper’s response said the ethics complaint was an attempt to damage his reputation.

WRITETHRU

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said he hasn’t violated state ethics rules on travel, contending he personally paid for some of the trips that a former state lawmaker questioned.

Hickenlooper filed a written response Wednesday to a complaint submitted by a nonprofit headed by former state lawmaker Frank McNulty, The Denver Post reported .

Hickenlooper, who will leave office in January, is a Democrat. McNulty is a Republican. The two clashed in 2012 over Hickenlooper’s support for civil unions.

McNulty’s newly formed group, the Public Trust Institute, filed a complaint with the state Independent Ethics Commission in October, citing dozens of flights Hickenlooper has taken since he assumed office in 2011.

A 2006 constitutional amendment bans most gifts to elected state officials and any gifts that are offered in exchange for services. A strict gift limit of $59 applies, with certain exceptions, to state elected officials.

McNulty’s group said it filed the complaint after comparing dates when the governor was traveling with details in campaign finance reports.

The group asked the commission to determine whether Hickenlooper accepted other benefits, including hotel stays, while attending events in Italy, Switzerland and the U.S.

The complaint cites several flights taken by the governor on jets owned by corporate entities such as homebuilder M.D.C. Holdings and Liberty Media Corp.

The governor’s response, submitted by his attorney Mark Grueskin, acknowledged he accepted free jet travel four times in 2018 but said each was a personal gift from a close friend and was allowed by state guidelines. The response said Hickenlooper paid for two other trips cited in the complaint out of his own pocket.

The response said state law does not require Hickenlooper to disclose either the trips provided by his friends nor the ones he paid for.

The response said the ethics complaint was an attempt to damage his reputation.

“The complaint is founded on a lack of personal knowledge and is, in large part, factually or legally incorrect, or both,” his attorney wrote.

McNulty on Wednesday called the explanations “convenient” and said they were little more than “a way to make our ethics law essentially meaningless.”

McNulty said he will challenge Hickenlooper’s explanations to the ethics commission.

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Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com

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