When does a news story make no sound? When the Denver Post decides it isn’t even worthy of a blog post. Sadly, the Post doesn’t seem to know the difference between a publicity stunt (i.e. living on a billboard for weeks at a time to draw attention to a cause) and a thoughtful inquiry.
In filing an ethics complaint against Gov. John Hickenlooper this past week, my goal was to have the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) get answers to several question that arise from the Governors’ trip on the state-owned plane to Durango with someone who maxed out campaign donations to his campaign each year Hickenlooper has been Governor (See Colorado Peak Politics Story here).
- Was Ken Gart the only USA Pro Cycling Challenge Organizer invited to fly with the Governor?
- Did past campaign contributions play any role in determining who got to fly with the Governor and who did not?
- Did the Governor discuss politics and/or other partisan activities with Gart during the plane ride, including further possible contributions?
- Even assuming this trip was partially state business for the Governor, why did he fail to allocate expenses, as State Fiscal Rule for Travel 11.7 requires when the purpose of travel mixes state and non-state business
- Why did it take an investigation by KDVR into the use of the state plane to prompt the Governor to reimburse the state these expenses?
- If there were no investigation, would the taxpayers have been left with the cost?
Understandably, the Denver Post might be reluctant to cover a story about the first ethics charges ever brought against the Governor, if those charges made outrageous claims. However, the facts of this story clearly and substantially raise reasonable questions.
Hickenlooper took a max donor on a plane trip with him to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge last August, and failed to reimburse those costs to the state until a media outlet decided to look into the plane’s use. Per the decision by the Independent Ethics Committee in the Colorado Ethics Watch v. Gessler case, these questions obviously fall within their purview to investigate. The job title of the person bringing the complaint should have no bearing on the facts of the case or the possible ethics violations which may have taken place.
Worse still is the fact that by ignoring the story as the Post has, they’re potentially giving cover to the IEC to dismiss the case with little or no process. Should that happen, the Post can comfort themselves and pat themselves on the back that the charges weren’t that serious. It becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of, “move along here, nothing to see!”
Funny, I had always heard journalists love to tell you how the biggest political scandal in U.S. history started with a “third rate” burglary, but tenacious reporters did their job.
For the “Paper of Record” in the Rocky Mountain region to have so little regard for its readers as to not put these facts and questions in front of them just proves that mainstream journalism is dead.
All you will hear is the sounds of crickets at the Denver Post.
Jason Worley is the co-host of “Grassroots Radio” afternoons on 560 AM.