State Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, asked for a moment of personal time on the House floor today. He wanted to make a clean breast of a financial irregularity his besieged paperwork had turned up. He wasn’t speaking to the complication that brought an Ethics Watch complaint earlier in the week. This time he wanted to apologize for having received an overpayment by the state.
King said he discovered the error while looking into a much-reported complaint brought by Colorado Ethics Watch that alleged he had “double-dipped” by billing expenses both to his campaign and to the state. That complaint was dismissed Friday by the House Ethics Committee, which also voted to send a cautionary letter outlining concerns regarding King’s conduct.
King again said that the allegations were misleading and that the flap was a politically motivated thinly veiled attempt to ruin his career. King explained that he had had only borrowed money from his campaign to travel to the capitol until he could receive reimbursements. He said it was after the ethics complaint was filed that he discovered he had received payments for a rental car from both the campaign and the state.
He added that he needed to take responsibility for the mistakes he has made.
King said he has reimbursed the state the $914.53 he was overpaid.
In a release on the House Committee’s finding, Luis Toro, Colorado Ethics Watch director, said he hoped the letter the Committee planned to send on the King affair would convey a strong message.
“The purpose of an Ethics Committee is to set standards of conduct for House members, and it would send a terrible message for the Ethics Committee to condone the practice of members loaning themselves money out of their campaign account. On the other hand, if the Ethics Committee sends a strong letter specifying their concerns with Representative King’s behavior, they can help ensure that this does not happen again. We call on the Ethics Committee to state in no uncertain terms that members may not treat their campaign accounts as personal credit lines in the future.”
King’s full statement:
As many of you know on the first day of the session an ethics complaint was filed against me alleging that I doubled billed expenses. I provided all of the documentation to demonstrate that this allegation was false. In doing the follow up investigation myself against the complaint, I discovered a separate error, a mistake of my own in bookkeeping that resulted in the state overpaying me. While it is not part of the original complaint, it is still a serious error and I will stand tall and take responsibility for it.
I immediately repaid the state for the overpayment. I wanted to take this moment of personal privilege to come before you to acknowledge my mistake and to publicly apologize for the error. As is the case with each of you, my integrity means everything to me. So when I make a mistake no matter how unintentional, I am disappointed in myself when those things happen. I am angry at myself for disappointing the people that I represent and serve, and even more than that, I realize that my error could reflect badly on the House of representative and for that I am truly sorry. Thank you.