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Ethics Tutorial - Colorado General Assembly

- Criminal Code Violations - 17 of 25


A legislator may be held criminally liable for misuse of official information if the legislator takes certain actions in contemplation of official actions to be taken by the legislator or the General Assembly or takes certain actions based on information that is not available to the public but is known by the legislator. Specifically, a legislator may commit misuse of official information if he or she knows that some official action will be taken or the legislator has some piece of nonpublic information, and the legislator acquires a pecuniary interest in property, a transaction, or an enterprise that may be affected by the action or the information, or if the legislator speculates on the basis of the action or the information.  The legislator may also be guilty of misuse of official information if he or she wants to grant another person a special pecuniary benefit and does so by aiding, advising, or encouraging  the other person to acquire a pecuniary interest or to speculate based on the action or the information.  Misuse of official information is a class 6 felony punishable by a minimum of one year and a maximum of 18 months in prison, followed by a mandatory parole period of one year, or by a fine of at least $1,000 but not more than $100,000, or by both the fine and imprisonment.


Misuse of official information

You are sitting in the House Education Committee listening to testimony on a bill to allow CSU-Pueblo to open a new satellite campus in La Junta. Your ears perk up when the witnesses from CSU-Pueblo start describing exactly where the new campus will be located. It's in the neighborhood you live in. You happen to know that the Lucky Licks Ice Cream Shop is located just across the street from where the new campus will be built and that Lucky Licks has been for sale for about two years. The committee passes the bill to the Committee of the Whole; you are the only committee member to vote against the bill. That evening, you make an offer on the Lucky Licks property, which is immediately accepted. You close on the property a month later. Two weeks after your closing, the General Assembly passes this very popular bill by a wide margin. You voted against the bill each time it came up for a vote in the House.


Have you committed the crime of misuse of official information?

Select No. Authorization of the new campus and the location of the new campus was public information; anyone could have been smart enough to buy the ice cream shop.

Select No. The campus won't open for at least a year and there's no guarantee that opening the campus will lead to higher profits at the ice cream shop.

Select Yes. In contemplation of the legislature's action to authorize the new campus, you bought a business that is likely to be more profitable because of that new campus.

Select No. You never voted in favor of the bill, so you didn't act in contemplation of any official action that you took.

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Last updated: 09 OCT 2015

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