Lobbyist’s Gift Raises Legal Questions About Disclosure

While some fans were in a frenzy over the Colorado Rockies’ World Series adventure, lobbyists at the state legislature were also in a frenzy of sorts, giving lawmakers free tickets to sold-out games, and in some cases, much-coveted and hard-to-score tickets to the World Series.

Now one Rockies gift has raised legal questions for a veteran lobbyistIn October, joyfully titled “Rocktober” by Rockies fans, Sen. Jennifer Veiga (D-Denver) was given two tickets to a playoff game by veteran lobbyist Bill Artist, who represents a long list of clients at the state Capitol, including the Colorado Rockies, Wal-Mart, and McDonalds.

Such gifts aren’t unusual. For instance, Sen. Veiga was also given two tickets to the World Series (with a cash value of $500) by Qwest lobbyist John McCormick. However, lobbyist disclosure reports at the Secretary of State’s office appear to show that Artist never disclosed the playoff tickets to Sen. Veiga, a gift that was worth $160 according to Veiga’s own quarterly gifts and honoraria report, a form legislators are required to fill out disclosing gifts from professional lobbyists.

When asked about the report, Sen. Veiga confirmed that she had received the tickets, although she admitted the gift could have come from one of Artist’s associates.

A search of the Secretary of State’s disclosure filings found no expenditure reports detailing the tickets to Sen. Veiga, even for filings from Artist’s associates.

“I presume there must be some mistake,” Artist says, noting that he will look into the matter.

The Secretary of State’s office did not return a request for comment as to why or how a mistake may have occurred.

According to state regulations, professional lobbyists are required to file monthly disclosure reports detailing expenditures and income. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $5,000 or possible jail time.

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 erosa@www.coloradoindependent.com.

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