Do As I Say, Not As I Do: The Amendment 41 Truth Test

The ballyhoo over the implementation of Amendment 41 – Standards of Conduct in Government has legislators, citizens, and Constitutional scholars (both real and amateur) tied up in knots.

As Mark Grueskin argued in a live Q&A here yesterday, the measure’s intent was to prohibit violations of the public trust through acceptance of gifts to influence legislation and/or government operations.

Colorado Confidential is putting the state’s top political leadership to the test by comparing their public statements for or against Amendment 41 with a list of gifts and honoraria each of them has reported to the Colorado Secretary of State since 2004.

For some senators, enacting Amendment 41 may very well cramp their style. Senate Leadership
Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D-Coal Creek)
Reported $3,211.22 in gifts, including:

  • $2,618 for a mission to Israel concerning water and homeland security from the Allied Jewish Federation
  • $133 for a room at the Silvertree in Snowmass during the annual Colorado Trial Lawyers Association meeting
  • $204 for three tourism posters from the Capstone Group, a private wealth management firm

On one unintended effect of the amendment’s language:

“It’s a shame because from now only really rich people will be able to participate in government,” Fitz-Gerald said Thursday.

Source: “Despite attempts to clarify, Amendment 41 still puzzling,” Rocky Mountain News, January 6, 2007.

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Groff (D-Denver)
Reported $12,215 in gifts including:

  • $5,000 for a legislative trip to China from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office of Kansas City, Missouri
  • $2,668 for tickets to 16 pro and college sporting events from various lobbyists
  • $2,000 for two health disparity conferences from a lobbyist and a pharmaceutical company
  • $1,150 for 6 rounds of golf with various lobbyists
  • $300 for tickets to the circus

On claiming that the state legislature has no authority to repair or define the amendment:

“We can’t take a legislative machete to parts of the constitution because we don’t like what it says,” Groff said.

Source: “Boettcher scholarships exempt from Amendment 41, judge says; Government workers’ children feared loss of aid,” Rocky Mountain News, February 10, 2007.

Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon (D-Denver)
Reported no gifts.

How will you vote on Amendment 41?

Yes. I have always supported measures that reduce the influence of special interests on public officials. In fact, I have never taken a special interest PAC contribution to any of my political campaigns, and this is fairly unique.

Source: 2006 candidate questionnaire, Rocky Mountain News.

Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany (R-Colorado Springs)
Reported $6,693.93 in gifts, including:

  • $2,618 for in-kind expenses for a trip to Israel from the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado
  • $1,763 for expenses to a health care conference by the Colorado Health Foundation
  • $1,250 for two Denver Bronco tickets from Verizon Wireless
  • $577.93 for reimbursement of expenses to speak at convention by the Colorado Association of Homebuilders

Believes that only the voters can change the law:

“However, our hands are tied now that voters have inserted the measure into the constitution. 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.”

Source: “Hunt on for way to soften 41; Both parties chafe under amendment restricting freebies,” Rocky Mountain News, January 19, 2007.

Senate Assistant Minority Leader Nancy Spence (R-Centennial)
Reported no gifts.

On the fear generated by Amendment 41 which caused the cancellation of one of the biggest and best attended parties hosted by the Colorado Restaurant Association to fete the opening night of the legislature:

“I haven’t fully accepted that yet.”

Source: “Will 41 trip up Polis, too?,” Rocky Mountain News, January 3, 2007.

Tomorrow we’ll report on how the House leadership stacks up on the issue versus the freebies they hauled in.

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