Coffman hails exoneration by ethics panel, blasts ‘failed partisan scheme’

In a withering response to the unanimous decision handed down Tuesday morning by a state ethics panel clearing him of misconduct charges, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman castigated the nonprofit organization that filed the complaint with Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission more than a year ago.

Coffman calls the conflict-of-interest charges sought by Colorado Ethics Watch “outrageous lies” that weren’t supported by “a shred of evidence.” The Republican congressman goes on to brand the organization a partisan attack group bent on discrediting GOP politicians and charges the group only occasionally targets “expendable” Democrats.

Coffman went further, slamming Ethics Watch’s complaint as part of a “two-year jihad” against him during hours of testimony at the March 6 hearing — the first held by the state ethics commission since voters approved the controversial Amendment 41, the ethics in government law that established the panel among other reforms in 2006.

Ethics Watch didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Coffman’s response to the ruling.

Here’s the statement released Tuesday by Coffman’s campaign:

“Today, the State of Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission put an end to a two-year frivolous and partisan campaign against me by a group that calls itself Colorado Ethics Watch. Make no mistake: Ethics Watch is a highly partisan political organization that disguises itself as a nonpartisan and nonprofit group dedicated to ethics reform. In reality, Ethics Watch is funded as part of the Colorado Democracy Alliance, an organization with an objective to discredit leading Republicans. In a disingenuous attempt to justify its tax-exempt status, Ethics Watch will occasionally target ‘expendable’ Democrats. The outcome of this case speaks volumes about Ethics Watch and its failed partisan scheme.

“At a time when Colorado is facing a serious economic crisis and our state budget is seeing dramatic cutbacks, Ethics Watch wasted precious government resources by falsely accusing me of corruption and criminal misconduct when they knew they had not a shred of evidence to support these outrageous lies. No one should ever take Ethics Watch seriously again.

“I provided leadership in the Secretary of State’s office with the same honor and integrity that I have demonstrated in my service to our state and nation in the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, as a State Legislator, the State Treasurer, and in my current role as a Congressman.”

Read the ethics commission’s 18-page decision on the Coffman complaint here (PDF).