Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, fresh off a failed Democratic presidential primary campaign, has set his sights on unseating incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in November — but that bid appears to have gotten substantially tougher for him.
Hickenlooper was found guilty on Friday by the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission of violating rules against accepting gifts, according to Breitbart.
He was also held in contempt of the commission for ignoring a subpoena to testify in a previous virtual hearing.
“Privately financed treatment”
As for the ethics complaints, commissioners found that he accepted gifts on more than one occasion in 2018 in violation of a state restriction known as Amendment 41. Among the perks he reportedly received were private jet flights, expensive dinners, and a ride in an expensive sports car during a conference in Italy.
The then-governor reportedly paid $1,500 for the trip to Italy and later claimed that he believed the sum covered all associated expenses — including the luxury limo ride.
“I’m concerned that if we allow this kind of special, privately financed treatment for elected officials, it just accentuates the cynicism that led to Amendment 41,” said Commissioner Bill Leone prior to this week’s vote.
Hickenlooper was only found guilty on two of six ethics charges, though, and a spokesperson for his campaign downplayed the allegations as the work of “special interests” trying to “mislead” Colorado voters ahead of the election.
Colorado Republican Party spokesman Joe Jackson, on the other hand, was notably less understanding.
“No one is above the law”
“The IEC made clear today that no one is above the law, not even a former governor,” he said. “Coloradans should think twice before voting for a man found guilty of several ethics abuses.”
National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez also weighed in with a statement lambasting Hickenlooper, saying that he was “guilty of shrugging off the state’s ethics rules and violating the trust taxpayers had placed in him” while in the governor’s mansion.
“Hickenlooper has spent the last week refusing to testify, ignoring subpoenas, and being found in contempt because he didn’t want to answer for his serious disregard for Colorado’s ethics laws,” she added.
The commission is set to meet again later this month to decide what sort of penalty Hickenlooper will face. The heftiest cost, however, might come in the uphill battle he now faces to convince voters he deserves to be elected to the Senate.