FRIDAY UPDATE #2: Reporter Allison Sherry of the Denver paper adds a crucial detail to this developing story today–that is, actual House rules which may have been broken. Sherry reports that House rules state members of Congress may not benefit financially from their position–and, “for the purposes of enforcement,” relatives are included in that prohibition.
If that’s right, then this could indeed be more serious for Scott Tipton than a benign if unseemly mistake by his “government relations specialist” (daughter). Like we said below, you don’t appear before the Ethics Committee to apologize unless you have a real problem.
FRIDAY UPDATE: It appears that Democrats have an actual mouthpiece in the form of new state party chairman Rick Palacio–wasting no time getting a statement out this morning hammering Tipton for this ethics problem, as well as inattention to Pinon Canyon resulting in a last-minute scramble to keep an important funding ban in place. Smack!
“After five months in office, it’s time for Scott Tipton to get control over the functions of his office and start acting like a Congressman. His office was out to lunch on the Pinon Canyon funding ban and put our ranching communities at risk, requests from local communities for support for local projects go unfulfilled, and his lack of leadership threatens the existence of nearly every airport in his district. Now his spokesman is pushing conspiracy theories after basic questions are asked about a letter Rep. Tipton himself sent to the House Ethics Committee. It’s time for Scott Tipton to get off the grassy knoll and do his job.”
Politico’s Marin Cogan filed a report moments ago this evening that we’re pretty sure freshman Rep. Scott Tipton doesn’t want you to read. Tomorrow’s big story:
GOP Freshman Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) sent a letter to the House ethics committee Thursday regarding “improper” e-mails his daughter sent using his name to solicit business for the tele-town hall services company where she’s employed.
Elizabeth Tipton has been contacting congressional offices and introducing herself as the congressman’s daughter, to arrange appointments for Broadnet, the tele-townhall services company she began working for in January 2011…
Which is one hell of a way to score business in Washington, if you haven’t heard–
The letter goes on to say that Tipton has consulted his “staff and the House Ethics Rules and I do not believe this to be a violation of any ethics rule. However, I believe it to be an improper use of my name and I would like to apologize and assure you that it will not happen again. If there are any other measures that must be taken in this regard please let me know and I will be happy to do so.”
And of course, it gets better:
Broadnet provides more than 100 congressional offices with tele-town hall services via various vendors-companies like iConstituent, DCS and Zata|3. Tipton’s office confirmed that one of Broadnet’s vendors, iConstituent, provides services for their office. [Pols emphasis]
“We use iConstituent, which is the same company John Salazar, our predecessor, used. They were cheapest,” said [Tipton spokesman Josh] Green…
Yeah, but there’s a little more to the story, Josh:
The Colorado-based company Broadnet was co-founded in 2004 by Steve Patterson, Tipton’s nephew and the organization’s current CEO. [Pols emphasis] Patterson and his wife, Angela, gave $750 to Tipton in 2005, and Angela gave the maximum contribution amount, $2,400, to the Tipton campaign in 2010, FEC filings show.
So what do you think, folks? Tipton’s spokesman Josh Green describes this as a “sleazy political attack” on a “22 year old girl,” but that’s not quite how she is representing herself, is it? Our first thoughts went right back to Rep. Scott McInnis’ wife on the payroll. An additional degree of separation or two, but still, as you can see, family business–and not just immediate family either! Tipton was already looking vulnerable enough on hard policy issues: the last thing he needs is an honest-to-God ethics problem dripping in the background.
And just so we’re clear, folks, you don’t send contrite explanations to the House Ethics Committee about your daughter’s job unless you’ve got a problem.