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February 10, 2009 04:57 PM UTC

Coffman/Kopelman Case Keeps Kicking

  • by: Colorado Pols

As the Rocky Mountain News reports–bet you’d forgotten, hadn’t you?

A complaint filed a year ago against former Secretary of State Mike Coffman should continue to a public hearing, the new state Independent Ethics Commission has ruled.

The hearing, scheduled for March 6, would be the first of its kind by the panel, which was formed last year as a result of a state ethics law approved by voters in 2006.

Colorado Ethics Watch, a government watchdog group, filed the complaint against Coffman in February 2008.

The group accuses him of breaking ethics rules by allowing an employee of the elections division, which is part of the Secretary of State’s Office, to operate a partisan political business.

Ethics Watch also alleges that Coffman approved electronic voting machines made by a company that hired a lobbying group he used to run his successful congressional campaign…

Coffman hired prominent government affairs lawyer Doug Friednash, who filed a motion to dismiss last December.

Friednash argued that the commission does not have jurisdiction to hear the case, that the allegations are frivolous and that there are no clear penalties under law if the allegations were upheld, among other things.

Last week, the commission rejected the motion and said members had determined that the complaint was not frivolous and should move forward.

It’s unclear what this would mean for Congressman Coffman–probably not a lot, except for maybe an embarrassing report and a few weeks of dodging reporters until the scandal fades from memory. We don’t see how, either by force of law or by an outraged CD-6 electorate (as if), this could jeopardize Coffman’s career at this point. Note how we didn’t use the word “should”–that’s a different judgment call.

Because we always thought that Coffman’s top aide in the Secretary of State’s office, Dan Kopelman, running a partisan voter data shop on the side was an egregious, comically over-the-top conflict of interest. It’s not even a close call, as we said in May 2007:

Why does nobody believe Coffman when he claims not to have known about Kopelman’s business? Coffman and Kopelman are long time political confidants, and their relationship has been repeatedly documented. Kopelman worked under Coffman at the state treasurer’s office, and Coffman’s own campaign for secretary of state last year paid Kopelman for political consulting work. There is absolutely, positively, no way in hell that Coffman didn’t know what Kopelman was doing.

And it would seem, almost two years belated, that our shiny new Independent Ethics Commission agrees.


5 thoughts on “Coffman/Kopelman Case Keeps Kicking

  1. Even though this was clearly a conflict run from his office right in front of him. I believe he knew- but if he didn’t he’s an idiot.

    But the numbers tell the tale of job security for the guy.

    Obama won Arapahoe County by almost 13%

    Coffman won by almost 15%. So even though a lot of U’s and R’s voted for Obama – they also voted for Coffman.

    Some may be moved by an ethics scandal.  But what I see is a lot of neighbors who think gov’t is inherently corrupt anyway so what’s the difference.  Unless, of course, someone lies about a sex scandal.

    So as long as Coffman doesn’t get caught in a sex scandal ala Tracy Baker or Bill Clinton- he should be safe as long as he chooses to run.

    1. but apples to apples, MADCO. Comparing Coffman and Obama’s “Arapahoe County” margins is misleading, as the 6th doesn’t include more heavily Democratic parts of Arapahoe County, which are parts of the 7th.

      1. I understand a very considerable number right here in the 6th went for Obama and also Coffman.  The only way to get any attention for a Dem CD6 candidate would be to come up with someone really, really famous, really widely known and liked, AND have the DCCC target us with a vengeance.

        Otherwise Coffman is safe even if he faces another little scandal or two.  As long as it doesn’t involve a dead girl or a live boy, in which case the Rs would just come up with someone else who would win.  

      2. doesn’t include some D friendly parts of Arapahoe that are in CD7. But the 6th also includes Douglas, and parts of Jefferson, Park and Elbert Counties.  Not traditional D strongholds.

        Except for Park which made news  – I haven’t look at the numbers for the other areas- but I’d guess that Obama did well in Jeffco and got crushed in Douglas and Elbert. Whereas Coffman did well in all counties in the 6th.

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