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Ethics Tutorial - Colorado General Assembly

- Legislative Ethics Complaint Process - 24 of 25

Background

Section 5 of Article XXIX of the Colorado Constitution (commonly referred to as Amendment 41), entitled Ethics in Government, establishes the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC).  One of the purposes of the IEC is to review written complaints filed against public officers, members of the General Assembly, local government officials, and government employees that allege noncompliance with Amendment 41 or another standard of conduct or reporting requirements provided by law occurring during the preceding twelve months. The IEC has the authority to dismiss frivolous complaints, but must conduct an investigation, hold a public hearing, and render findings on each non-frivolous complaint pursuant to the written rules of the IEC.  The IEC may also assess penalties for violations as prescribed in Amendment 41 and as provided by law.

Hypothetical

Independent Ethics Commission complaint process

While serving in the Colorado Senate, you become familiar with a nonprofit charitable organization that serves the needs of homeless individuals and families in Colorado.  Since you believe strongly in the importance of this organization's work, you decide to use the many contacts you have developed as a legislator to help increase the organization's funding.  As part of your fundraising efforts, you send out an e-mail soliciting donations for the organization to all of the e-mail addresses in your address book, which include the e-mail addresses of numerous lobbyists and many employees of the General Assembly.  Shortly after the e-mail is sent, the Secretary of the Senate calls to inform you that the Senate Rules prohibit a legislator from requesting a lobbyist or employee of the General Assembly to make donations to any type of charitable organization.  Upon receiving this information, you immediately send out another e-mail admitting your mistake and telling lobbyists and employees of the General Assembly to please disregard your previous request for donations.

Question


Can an ethics complaint be filed with the Independent Ethics Commission alleging your e-mail violated the Senate Rules?

Select Yes, but until the IEC has completed its proceedings, a complaint based upon the same conduct cannot be filed with the Senate President.

Select No, since the situation involves the possible violation of a Senate Rule, a complaint can only be filed in accordance with the Senate ethics procedures.

Select Yes, but only if the e-mail was sent out during the twelve-month period prior to the filing of the complaint.

Select No, the complaint would be frivolous since you subsequently rescinded your request for donations from lobbyists and employees of the General Assembly.


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Last updated: 09 OCT 2015


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