Redacted recordings of Colorado ethics commission closed meetings

Below are the redacted recordings of seven closed-door meetings released by the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission following an open records request by The Colorado Independent that claimed the panel illegally met in secret a dozen times between January and May.

The commission agreed to release the recordings during a July 31 hearing in Denver District Court on a lawsuit filed by The Independent that asked a judge to order the panel to turn over the recordings. The lawsuit alleged the commission deliberated and reached decisions behind closed doors — which is forbidden by Colorado law — and failed to follow strict procedures when shielding proceedings from public view.

An attorney for the commission said no recordings exist for five of its closed-door executive sessions, chiefly when commissioners talked about a formal complaint filed — and later dismissed — against U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman alleging ethical misconduct while he was Colorado’s secretary of state.

Chief Judge Larry Naves said he would rule later this month whether the commission can withhold portions of audio recordings its attorneys argue should be protected from public disclosure.

The ethics commission released unedited recordings from two meetings and agreed to turn over hours of recordings from another five meetings after government lawyers finished erasing segments the commission wants to keep confidential.

In all, the ethics commission spent more than 46 hours behind closed doors — amounting to 85 percent of its time spent meeting in the first part of this year, according to an analysis by The Independent — but only recorded just short of 13 hours of those meetings. The recordings released to The Independent amount to just short of 11 hours, suggesting the commission has redacted roughly two hours worth of conversation.


How to listen to the recordings: The recordings are grouped by meetings, which are listed in the left-hand column. Click on the highlighted dates to view the minutes for each meeting, including decisions rendered in swift, unanimous votes after commissioners reconvened in public. There are no minutes on file for the meeting dates that aren’t highlighted.

In most cases, the commission recorded several segments of each closed-door meeting, turning the recorder on and off for breaks and to discuss matters attorneys decided didn’t have to be recorded. The segments are listed in the second column using the commission’s numbering system. For instance, “9011400″ indicates a 2009 meeting held in January (01) on the 14th, and this recording is the first of that day’s files. Subsequent files are numbered 01, 02, and so forth.

Listen to the recordings, which are in the MP3 format, in your browser by clicking on the recording numbers. You’ll be taken to a page containing the file and, in most browsers, an audio player such as QuickTime should open and give you the option to play, pause and scroll through the recording.

The highlighted recordings can be downloaded by right-clicking (or control-clicking on a Mac). Files that aren’t highlighted weren’t released by the commission.

The “Time recorded” and “Time released” columns display the duration of each recording, based on information provided by the commission to the court. In instances where the time recorded exceeds the time released, the commission has redacted a portion of the recording — in almost all cases claiming the conversation is privileged communication between commissioners and legal counsel. Where “NONE” is listed, the commission didn’t record the meeting.

Note: The recordings are often poor quality and hard to hear, sometimes overwhelmed by background noise.


Executive session

Recording

Time recorded

Time released

Jan. 14, 2009

9011400

0:13:07

0:05:29

9011401

0:04:22

0:04:22

9011402

0:29:25

0:00:00

9011403

0:05:47

0:00:00

9011404

0:24:43

0:11:51

9011405

0:00:02

0:00:02

Total exec 4:25:00

Total 1:17:26

Total 0:21:44

Jan. 23, 2009

9012300

0:16:51

0:09:50

Total exec 5:00:00

Total 0:16:51

Total 0:09:50

Feb. 2, 2009

9020200

0:25:38

0:25:38

9020201

1:15:02

1:00:00

9020202

1:00:12

0:42:38

Total exec 5:08:00

Total 2:40:52

Total  2:08:16

Feb. 20, 2009

NONE

N/A

N/A

Total exec 7:10:00

N/A

N/A

March 18, 2009

NONE

N/A

N/A

Total exec 6:00:00

N/A

N/A

March 19, 2009

9031900

0:00:01

0:00:01

9031901

0:46:54

0:46:55

9031902

1:18:23

1:18:25

9031903

1:13:53

1:13:53

Total exec 4:20:00

Total 3:19:11

Total 3:19:14

March 31, 2009

NONE

N/A

N/A

Total exec 2:00:00

N/A

N/A

April 6, 2009

9040600

1:09:42

0:50:59

Total exec 2:20:00

Total  1:09:42

Total 0:50:59

April 13, 09

NONE

N/A

N/A

Total exec 1:00:00

N/A

N/A

April 16, 09

NONE

N/A

N/A

Total exec 0:20:00

N/A

N/A

April 21, 2009

9042100

0:02:02

0:02:02

9042101

0:01:52

0:01:52

9042102

0:00:28

0:00:28

9042103

0:56:21

0:56:21

9042104

0:50:26

0:50:26

9042105

0:39:37

0:39:37

Total exec 4:40:00

Total 2:30:46

Total 2:30:46

May 6, 2009

9050600

0:01:07

0:01:07

9050601

0:35:45

0:29:08

9050602

0:07:47

0:07:47

9050603

0:00:04

0:00:04

9050604

0:50:43

0:49:17

Total exec 4:00:00

Total 1:35:26

Total 1:27:23

Grand total 46:23:00

All recordings 12:50:14

All released 10:48:12

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Ernest Luning

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