Ethics Watch this week released Ethics Roundup 2010: Colorado’s Ethics Agenda, the organization’s third annual report highlighting misbehaviors and misdeeds affecting the state of ethics in Colorado government, and, new this year, the loopholes or lack of enforcement that enable these 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 the organization. “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.”
Rather than just focusing on the problems that arose in 2010, 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.
Specifically, Ethics Watch has identified six issues in need of immediate attention and fixing:
1. Close loopholes in disclosure laws for ballot initiative elections
2. Impose criminal penalties for bribery of a candidate
3. Strengthen ethics rules for unpaid members of state boards and commissions
4. Improve collection of campaign finance penalties
5. Regulate private fundraising by government officials
6. Reform the Independent Ethics Commission’s investigation and hearing process
Many people were in the news and in court, drawing attention and gaining their place in Ethics Roundup 2010. Among them are Douglas Bruce for his efforts to avoid having to testify in a campaign finance case, unidentified supporters of Tom Tancredo who allegedly offered bribes to get Dan Maes to drop out of the race for governor, and State Board of Education member Peggy Littleton for doing business with charter schools under her jurisdiction. The Pinnacol Assurance board, the Colorado Independent Automotive Dealers Political Committee and the Colorado League of Taxpayers are also highlighted in the report.