Do As I Say, Not As I Do: The Amendment 41 Truth Test (Part 2)
The old adage “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” should probably be updated to include slinging rhetorical firebombs at political opponents at the statehouse.
Yesterday, in Part 1 of this story, we found curious inconsistencies between the criticism of Amendment 41’s curbs on lobbyist influence-peddling by some members of the Colorado Senate leadership and the value of said lobbyists’ gifts and honoraria to the same politicians, as reported to the Colorado Secretary of State since 2004.
For example, one of the measure’s harshest critics, Senate President pro tem Peter Groff (D-Denver) reported receiving in-kind gifts from lobbyists valued at a whopping $12,215 — an amount equal to 41 percent of his annual legislative salary.
Now, we’re putting the top House leadership to the same test.
Like their counterparts in both chambers of the Senate, some Representatives have some ‘splainin’ to do.
Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D-Denver)
Reported $5,135.90 in gifts, including:
- All for conference lodging and travel expenses from various educational and nonprofit organizations
On his plan to seek a rarely invoked request for an opinion to a legal question outside of litigation, called a legislative interrogatory, from the Colorado Supreme Court:
“As lawmakers, we’re on shaky ground constitutionally,” House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, said Sunday. “We have the power to clarify ambiguous language in constitutional amendments, but we’re not allowed to limit or narrow their application.”
Source: “Romanoff seeks OK to ‘fix’ Amendment 41,” Rocky Mountain News, February 5, 2007.
Speaker Pro Tem Cheri Jahn (D-Wheat Ridge)
Reported $5,490.65 in gifts, including:
- $3,303.65 for a fellowship and public safety conference from the Council of State Governments
- $1,317 for a pandemic flu preparedness conference from Roche Pharmaceuticals
- $550 for Broncos skybox tickets from a corporate CEO lobbying group
No public statements on Amendment 41 could be found.
House Majority Leader Alice Madden (D-Boulder)
Reported $159 in gifts, including:
- All for concert tickets from a lobbyist
Complaining that the public doesn’t understand the difference between legislative statutes and constitutional amendments:
“I get a little angry hearing people say, ‘It’s the legislature’s duty to fix it,’ when they handed us this.”
Source: “Fixing 41 fraught with irony,” Denver Post, February 4, 2007.
House Minority Leader Mike May (R-Parker)
Reported $1,558 in gifts, including:
- $718 for Denver Bronco and Colorado Rockies game tickets from a lobbyist
- $375 for hotel and round of golf from the Colorado Retail Council
- $200 for Phantom of the Opera tickets from a lobbyist.
On the lack of a legislative remedy:
Perhaps one of the most important steps that we can take to make our government more responsible, is to hold ourselves to the high standards that the citizens of Colorado expect. Voters sent a clear message with the passage of Amendment 41.
Source: “GOP on #41: Our Hands Are Tied,” Colorado Confidential, February 2, 2007.
Assistant House Minority Leader David Balmer (R-Centennial)
Reported $190.47 in gifts, including:
- All for meals with lobbyists
How will you vote on Amendment 41?
Source: 2006 candidate questionnaire, Rocky Mountain News.
Based on our investigation, Sen. Peter Groff is the winner and still champion of lobbyist freebies at the capitol. Groff remarked in a Denver Post story about the ban on lobbyists providing free box seats at Nuggets games, “My son is not very happy. But I’m taking him to the game next week.”
Well, that’s a relief! Saving your pennies and delaying that instant gratification of hanging out in a free skybox can be character-building. Honest. That’s what the rest of us do.
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