GOP on #41: Our Hands Are Tied

As the legislature ponders how to best install Colorado’s new ethics in government law, Republican leaders in the House and Senate gave a very clear indication of the minority party’s stance in the Amendment 41 debate during pointed references during their opening speeches the first day of the session. 

Reading their comments, it’s seems pretty clear  that Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany and House Minority Leader Mike May would approach what McElhany terms “rollbacks” with daggers drawn. First Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, (R-Colorado Springs):

There are some things we hope NOT to see emerge from the General Assembly this session, and they are things we will vigorously oppose:

One thing we will oppose will be any attempts to gut the gift ban voters just approved. Amendment 41 is poor public policy. However, our hands are tied now that voters have inserted the measure into the constitution. Any change that we seek – no matter how much we may feel it is warranted – must be referred to voters if it in any way can be read to narrow Amendment 41’s focus.

If the voters didn’t trust us enough to let lobbyists buy us a sandwich in the Capitol basement, imagine how they would feel about a legislative rollback of their handiwork.

One thing we can do through enacting legislation is to make sure this measure is fairly applied. Let’s close the loopholes that the measure provides for other government bodies to lobby the General Assembly.”

And this, from House Minority Leader Mike May, (R-Parker):

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.

There should never be a doubt about why we cast the votes we cast. After all, these votes do not belong to us, but to the citizens that we represent. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “We cannot do great deeds unless we are willing to do the small things that make up the sum of greatness.”

Republicans are committed to respecting Amendment 41 as approved by the voters, and will work to make our government even more open and accessible. Such openness should extend beyond the halls of this chamber, and you can expect our party to push this year for more open disclosure in political campaigns as well. After all, candidates become elected officials, and donor groups, such as political 527s, should not be given influence over our state government any more than special interest groups should.

This is part of an ongoing series on Amendment 41. Click here to read the first installment.

Cara DeGette is a longtime Colorado journalist and a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential. E-mail her at

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