BREAKING: Morse Ethics Complaint Dismissed

That’s the word we just received, an ethics complaint against Sen. John Morse was unanimously dismissed by the investigating committee today. Resolution of this complaint was delayed by last week’s budget drama. We’ll update shortly with details and statements–in the meantime, foreshadowing for this expected outcome was provided last Friday by the Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland:

Normally, the complaint would frame the allegations and whether they are substantiated by probable cause, according to Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. Gilroy said the complaint, while citing that Morse’s calendar raises “ethical” concerns and questions, doesn’t ever say what laws or rules may have been violated, a requirement under Senate rules for an ethics violation to be filed.

That’s a problem for the committee. Carroll said it makes her unsure about what to do about the complaint, since they don’t have any violation of law or rule to go by. Senate rule 43, which governs ethics complaints, states that anyone filing a complaint must specify “the statutes, rules, constitutional provisions, or other ethical principles alleged to have been violated.” The CoGAP complaint cites the statute on per diem but never says that Morse violated it…

Looks like they figured out “what to do” about this complaint–unanimous, bipartisan vote to the circular file. There’s nothing here to leave a mark on Sen. Morse, despite the most furiously inept media-shopping of a purported scandal we’ve seen in a long time. In the end, the fact that this entire brouhaha amounted to a Google calendar that nobody except those complaining ever believed represented a full record of Sen. Morse’s day, will make the press think twice about paying attention to the next “big scandal” from these guys.

And one last time, for the record: Joe Stengel resigned because he lied.

Which reminds us: did anybody ever ask Stephanie Cegielski of the Colorado Government Accountability Project (CoGAP) why her complaints appear to shadow Scott Gessler’s latest dustups by a conveniently brief interval? As both Bernie Buescher and John Morse can now attest? That’s kind of interesting, no doubt just a coincidence, somebody ought to ask.

19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Awen says:

    Which reminds us: did anybody ever ask Stephanie Cegielski of the Colorado Government Accountability Project (CoGAP) why her complaints appear to shadow Scott Gessler’s latest dustups by a conveniently brief interval? As both Bernie Buescher and John Morse can now attest? That’s kind of interesting, no doubt just a coincidence, somebody ought to ask.

    Ms. Cegielski responded to that question in a letter to The Statesman last week, here:

    http://www.coloradostatesman.c

  2. droll says:

    is that he was not required to do anything at all. That’s the precedent. His embarrassment and lack of trustworthiness has nothing to do with anything.

    Meanwhile, if either party, or a separate group, really wants to stop this sort of thing happening, they need to purpose a more specific rule. Morse, like Stengel, is either full of shit or sucks at time management skills. So what? Illegal it’s not.

  3. cdsmith says:

    will make the press think twice about paying attention to the next “big scandal” from these guys.

    No it won’t.  If there’s something sensational to print, today’s press will print it.  Truth makes no difference.

    • Awen says:

      No it won’t.  If there’s something sensational to print, today’s press will print it. Truth makes no difference.

      I would like to address this. I avoided doing this story for several weeks, despite the hard push I and others in the press were getting from CoGAP. Once it rose to the level of a formal ethics investigation, that’s when we decided a story was needed.

      And I’d like to point out that ColoradoPols posted the following on a diary a few weeks back:

      http://coloradopols.com/diary/

      Since CoGAP’s complaint appears to be folding up like an accordion under very casual scrutiny, perhaps having paid more attention to their allegations would have had the effect of debunking them sooner.

      On the other hand, you can’t really expect the media to waste their time like that.

      * sigh * darned if we do, darned if we don’t 🙂

  4. ohwilleke says:

    In ordinary court proceedings, references to a legal basis aren’t required, just relevant facts.  This board has a different rule, which isn’t unreasonable.  But, their ruling says nothing about the question about whether that facts could allege ethical wrongdoing if included in a properly drafted complaint.

    • cdsmith says:

      This seems to be the ethics board equivalent of dismissing a case for failure to state a claim.  I’m not a lawyer, but I do pay attention to the occasional legal matter,and failure to state a claim seems like a fairly common reason to dismiss angry ramblings that pose as lawsuits.  You can’t expect either a court or an ethics board to listen to a personal rant and then go searching for the legal excuse to fit the rant.  Not unless it’s Judge Judy.

      • ohwilleke says:

        of my comment.

        Is it the lack of legal references or a true lack of a meritorious set of facts that provide a basis for the dismissal?

        The description in the original post doesn’t sound like a dismissal on the merits.

        • Ralphie says:

          except that if the complaint fails to comply with the statute, it’s frivolous.

          End of discussion.

        • cdsmith says:

          My interpretation of the commonets in the article there were that the complaint only made allegations of things that the filers tried to paint as  “unethical”… but that did not actually violate any rules or laws.  If so, then this seems exactly analogous to a frivolous lawsuit by a man that rants about how ugly his neighbor’s car is, but never says anything about actions for which damages might be owed.

    • Middle of the Road says:

      The rules may indeed need to be changed but your opinion that it was dismissed based merely on a technicality doesn’t jive with what one of the committee members stated about why the committee voted unanimously to dismiss it.

      “I haven’t found anything that suggests there was an abuse,” said Carroll, the committee chair.

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