Attorney General Gets Flack Over Budget

Last week, Colorado Confidential reported that the Attorney General’s Office was requesting more resources to fight consumer fraud, at an additional cost of approximately $204,000.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s annual 2005 report touted “major initiatives” to protect state sovereignty by filing legal briefs against issues like same-sex marriage in other states.

Now the office is getting flack over the priorities in its budget.As the Denver Post reported today:

One of state government’s top budget writers is challenging Colorado Attorney General John Suthers for spending taxpayer money to join fights in other states over controversial issues such as gay marriage and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, wants Suthers to explain why the attorney general’s office is plunging into partisan legal battles in other states while begging for more money to protect Colorado consumers from fraud.

Colorado Confidential also submitted an open records request in an effort to discover how much the Attorney General had spent fighting same-sex marriage in other states.

Jason Dunn, a spokesman for the office, responded that there were no briefs to examine, as “participation involved only giving permission for Colorado’s name to be added to the amicus brief of the State of Indiana in a federal appellate case involving a challenge to the Nebraska marriage law.” This was at a minimal cost, according to Dunn.

“The marriage example stuck out first because I personally disagree with the law and, second, because it seemed like an odd contrast to the statement about not pursuing consumer fraud cases,” said Representative Jack Pommer, a member of the Joint Budget Committee, in E-mail

Rep. Pommer said he believed that the marriage brief was filed not upon the request of another state, but was an issue that the Attorney General’s Office choose to get involved with on its own.

Another problem is setting up performance measures to determine proper allocations of resources, says Pommer. The Attorney General’s Office tossed out previous performance measures without developing clear, new ones. 

“They substituted what seemed more like a few advertising slogans than performance measures.  The amicus briefs were part of that,” said Pommer.

Without the additional staff in the consumer protection unit, the office said enforcement actions regarding consumer protection would be stalled because of a “lack of resources.”

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at