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March 06, 2009 08:55 PM UTC

Coffman Ethics Hearing Liveblog

  • 2 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: The Denver Post picks up where the Independent left off:

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman says an ethics group waged a two-year “partisan attack” against him while he served as Colorado’s secretary of state…

“It was essentially a two-year jihad so they could go back to their donors and say they were doing a good job,” he said.

Coffman and other Republicans claim Colorado Ethics Watch is a Democratic group.

Colorado Ethics Watch has been tied to the Colorado Democracy Alliance, a group of liberal power-donors supporting Democratic candidates and causes through a network of nonprofit and political groups.

Ethics Watch has declined to reveal how it is funded, but its executive director has pointed out that the group has taken action against Democrats as well as Republicans.

Its complaints against Coffman allege that he knowingly let a state elections worker who was a political ally run a partisan side business and improperly recertified voting machines from a company represented by the same political-consulting firm that he hired to run his congressional campaign.

Colorado Independent is reporting from inside.

Friednash gives his opening. “The ‘Honorable’ Michael Coffman,” he begins. He says this case is about Mike Coffman’s reputation – in politics, this is worth everything, cites a Benjamin Franklin quote about breaking china. Friednash served in the state House – across the aisle from Coffman, a Republican. He lists Coffman’s military career, which is lengthy and varied, including his return to active duty during the first Gulf War and resignation as state treasurer to serve in Iraq before being reappointed. “No other Colorado elected official has served the state and country as

Ethics Watch has engaged in a “scorched earth campaign” to destroy Coffman’s reputation, Friednash says. He says the goal of the lawsuit filed by Ethics Watch was to tarnish Coffman’s reputation and damage his chances in the 2008 election, when he ran for Congress.

Friednash quotes a Colorado Statesman article that says Ethics Watch has filed more complaints against Coffman than against all Democrats combined. A Newsweek article links Ethics Watch to a plan by Democrats to take over the state, Friednash says. When Ethics Watch listed Colorado’s most corrupt public officials, Coffman topped the list…

Toro, the Ethics Watch counsel, rises to complain that Friednash hasn’t described what his witnesses will say and says Coffman’s attorneys are conducting “trial by ambush.”

9:15 a.m. – Rep. Coffman slips in the room and sits at his attorneys’ table.

Hobbs says the secretary of state’s office gets sued all the time. When the Ethics Watch complaint crossed his desk, Hobbs says he didn’t think it was a valid complaint and didn’t think it described behavior that could be thought of as unethical.

Hobbs describes the day he discovered Kopelman was operating a partisan Web site – says Kopelman was “surprised at seeing the Web site” and immediately acknowledged it was inappropriate and seemed “mortified” to see it on the deputy’s screen. Hobbs says he told Kopelman to take the site down “immediately.” He’d heard allegations Kopelman was taking data from the secretary of state’s office and offering it for sale but Kopelman disputed this, claiming he’d had the site up before coming to work for Coffman and simply hadn’t taken the site down.

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