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March 16, 2012 01:12 AM UTC

Trumped-Up Ethics Complaint Nears Speedy Dismissal

  • by: Colorado Pols

The Broomfield Enterprise’s Joe Rubino reports, updating the story from the beginning of the month of a complaint filed against ex-Rep. Anne McGihon, now a registered lobbyist:

The Open Government Institute of Colorado on March 1 filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office against former Democratic state representative and registered lobbyist Anne McGihon, claiming she violated state statute by lending her name to fundraiser for Primavera. Acting on behalf of Broomfield resident Tom Cave, the Institute claims that by being named as a co-host for a Primavera fundraiser being held today, McGihon violated a rule that prohibits lobbyists from such activities when the Legislature is in regular session.

McGihon, who was a representative from 2003 to 2006 before registering as a lobbyist last year, said she mistakenly lent her name to the event, but quickly withdrew and has not contributed to or elicited contributions on behalf of Primavera’s House District 33 campaign…

“The (administrative law judge) is unable find any legal authority to conduct proceeding for alleged violations of section 1-45-105.5(1)(a),” the letter states, giving the Institute until Friday to offer further explanation. [Pols emphasis]

“As far as we’re concerned, and just as we said when this matter was filed, this (complaint) is frivolous and it appears, at this point, the judicial officers … have agreed,” McGihon’s attorney Mark Grueskin said Thursday.

To be clear, it does look to us like former Rep. McGihon screwed up by agreeing to be listed as a co-host for this fundraiser. Like we said when this first came up, McGihon was never really the smartest member of the legislature, where she won few allies and resigned after losing her committee chair in the wake of a power play. She’s not somebody most Democrats are going to rush to defend, but it looks like he did the right thing as soon as her extremely dumbassed mistake was brought to light. We don’t think there are very many registered lobbyists out there who are unaware they’re not allowed to host fundraisers during the session, and if there were, there had better not be now! We knew that’s the rule, and we’re not even lobbyists.

Politically, this incident is of little value to the GOP-aligned “Ethics Watch too” outfit that brought this case. If they had been able tomake it stick to Dianne Primavera, the former holder of the HD-33 seat now seeking re-election as was obviously the goal, it would be one thing. But even the invitation the complaint is based on says that donations from lobbyists aren’t allowed. It’s objectively pretty obvious Primavera’s campaign wasn’t aware of the problem, any actual resulting harm from which being eliminated when McGihon pulled her name off the host list. Either way, it’s McGihon’s responsibility to know the laws that apply to her as a lobbyist.

As a final note, we just want to be crystal clear again about the GOP-aligned nature of the group that brought this complaint, the “Open Government Institute of Colorado,” in light of a column by pundit Mike Rosen today in the Denver paper. Rosen argues if “you’re going to describe the Independence Institute as a Colorado conservative think tank (which it is), you should similarly identify left-wing groups, like [Colorado Ethics Watch], for what they are.”

Believe it or not, we think this is a fine idea, as long as it applies to any organization staffed by employees of a GOP public relations firm or shacked up with the same Independence Institute. Since that accurately describes the “OGI,” hopefully no reporter will ever refer to them as a:

Nonpartisan, nonprofit political ethics watchdog organization

Ever again! Because that would be kind of silly.


6 thoughts on “Trumped-Up Ethics Complaint Nears Speedy Dismissal

  1. They office with the Independence Institute too? That’s too much. Too god damn much.

    I love this so much. I feel like it was written for me. These comments are why.

    Is it possible things are less cut-and-dried than you’re insinuating?

    Sometimes they are. Sometimes they’re just as “cut and dried” as they seem.

  2. OK, let’s be honest. McGihon is a very partisan Democrat and that’s OK. No problem.  She is supposed to work for Democrats.  Would you expect her to do a fundraiser for Lundberg?

    She’s just not yet learned that the new campaign ethics rules are hollow shells that mean nothing but you have to pay attention to the ceremonial requirements to pretend like you are not partisan.

    Maturity and experience will help her learn to fake it on the public record.

  3. The  Office of Administrative Court’s inquiry is of a technical nature:

    “In your March 5th request, you stated that “The ALJ is unable . . . to find any legal authority for OAC to conduct proceedings for alleged violations of Section 1-45-105.5.”  

    The  inquiry does not speak to the facts surrounding Ms. McGihon’s ethical violations. We have responded by providing statutory authority outlining the OAC’s jurisdiction over this complaint:


    OAC jurisdiction is proper here. Under CRS 1-45-111.5 (1.5) (a), “Any person who believes that a violation of either the secretary of state’s rules concerning campaign and political finance or this article has occurred may file a written complaint with the secretary of state not later than one hundred eighty days after the date of the occurrence of the alleged violation. The complaint shall be subject to all applicable procedures specified in section 9 (2) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.” Thus, Ms. McGihon’s violations of CRS 1-45-105.5 shall be reviewed under the procedures required under CRS 1-45-111.5(1.5)(a).

    While we are confident in our likelihood to prevail on the jurisdictional question and as your post states “To be clear, it does look to us like former Rep. McGihon screwed up by agreeing to be listed as a co-host for this fundraiser.”    the facts of the violations remain the same. Intent aside, Ms. McGihon broke the law and Ms. Primavera solicited unlawful contributions from lobbyists.

    Shawn Coleman Assistant Director, Open Government Institute and Boulder County Democrat  

    1. From here:

      Ms. McGihon broke the law

      To here:

      Ms. Primavera solicited unlawful contributions from lobbyists

      But you’ll get your day in court to explain it all.

    2. Do you feel any sense of irony, treachery, or other discomfort when you clock in at the Independence Institute as a “Democrat?”

      Because you’re being used knowingly or you’re quite stupid, my nominal Democrat friend.

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