Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bruce, Littleton cited in ethics report

Posted By on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Two El Paso County Republicans are named in Colorado Ethics Watch's third annual report, released today, which highlights "misbehaviors and misdeeds affecting the state of ethics in Colorado government," the group says in a press release.

Littleton at a campaign picnic last summer.
  • Littleton at a campaign picnic last summer.

State Board of Education member Peggy Littleton was highlighted in the report for doing business with charter schools under her jurisdiction.

Littleton, who was elected to the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners on Nov. 2 and takes office in January, collected tens of thousands of dollars in real estate consulting fees from charter schools while sitting on the state board, which regulates charter schools, the Independent reported Oct. 14.

She defeated outgoing state Rep. Michael Merrifield, assuring the dry stretch without any Democratic county commissioners will extend to 42 years.

Douglas Bruce also was named for his efforts to avoid having to testify in a campaign finance case.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit legal watchdog group also listed loopholes or lack of enforcement that enable violations of the public trust.

“At Colorado Ethics Watch, we are proud of our record of taking legal action to ensure open and honest behavior from public officials,” said Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “We’ve also seen situations where most people would agree an ethical line had been crossed, but for various reasons the law didn’t match up with people’s expectations. That’s why, for the first time this year, we are getting to the root of the problem — the loopholes and lack of enforcement tools that allow unethical behavior and lack of transparency to flourish in our state. There are many ethics challenges facing Colorado, but Ethics Watch has identified six that can be addressed right now through legislation or regulatory action in the coming year.”

Toro says the group's Ethics Roundup 2010 identifies ethics problems that are not effectively addressed under existing laws, and recommends a specific set of legislative and regulatory fixes to prevent similar problems from arising in the future. From imposing criminal penalties for bribery of a candidate to regulating private fundraising by government officials, each of these six issues highlights people and problems that might have made it on Ethics Watch’s previous “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” format of Ethics Roundup, the press release said.

Here are six issues Ethics Watch says are in need of immediate attention and fixing:

Close Loopholes in Disclosure Laws for Ballot Initiative Elections
Impose Criminal Penalties for Bribery of a Candidate
Strengthen Ethics Rules for Unpaid Members of State Boards and Commissions
Improve Collection of Campaign Finance Penalties
Regulate Private Fundraising By Government Officials
Reform the Independent Ethics Commission’s Investigation and Hearing Process

Also highlighted in the report are unidentified supporters of Tom Tancredo who allegedly offered bribes to get Dan Maes to drop out of the race for governor, The Pinnacol Assurance board, the Colorado Independent Automotive Dealers Political Committee and the Colorado League of Taxpayers.

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