Hickenlooper fined $2,750 by state ethics panel for violating gifts rule as governor
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) was fined a total of $2,750 by a state ethics commission Friday for twice violating a state law in 2018 restricting officials from accepting gifts.
The Independent Ethics Commission fined Hickenlooper, who is running for Senate in Colorado, $2,200 for a flight to Connecticut on a private jet and $550 for accepting a ride in a limousine in Italy.
The Colorado state constitution calls for penalties of twice the amount of gift or item received that violate state law. In the case of the private flight, the panel determined that it was worth $1,100, setting the fine at $2,200. For the limousine ride, the value was set at $275 with the fine being $550.
The $2,200 fine was set in a unanimous decision by the five-member panel. The $550 fine proved more difficult for the commission to assess. Committee members expressed concern over the evidence regarding the cost of the limousine ride, though ultimately all but one voted for the penalty.
The campaign said that Hickenlooper will not appeal the ruling and will personally pay the penalties.
“Governor Hickenlooper accepts the Commission’s findings and takes responsibility,” said Melissa Miller, a spokesperson for the Hickenlooper campaign.
The ethics commission also voted this month to hold Hickenlooper in contempt after he defied a subpoena requiring him to testify at a virtual hearing about the gift violations. Hickenlooper argued that the hearing’s remote format would violate his due process rights and said he had offered to appear in person at a later date on multiple times. The former governor ended testifying virtually earlier this month.
The gift violations against Hickenlooper stem from an ethics complaint from a conservative group, Public Trust Institute, in 2018.
Hickenlooper, who served two terms leading Colorado, is running for the chance to unseat Sen. Cory Gardner (R), widely considered one of the most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection this year. He will first have to face Andrew Romanoff, a former Colorado House speaker, in a primary on June 30.
The former governor has said the ethics complaint is politically motivated and accused Republicans of using the issue to hit Gardner’s eventual challenger.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) sent a statement after the ethics ruling on penalties, saying “Coloradans deserve better.”
“Hickenlooper violated the Colorado constitution, disrespected the rule of law, and forced the Commission to subpoena him and find him in contempt before answering their questions. Coloradans deserve better, and they deserve to be refunded for the hours billed as a result of Hickenlooper’s erratic behavior these past few weeks,” said NRSC spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez in a statement.
The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the Colorado race as a “toss up.”
Max Greenwood contributed to this report