To the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee of Washington, D.C. and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York: How’s that coronation of ethically challenged—and now guilty–John Hickenlooper working out?
The Independent Ethics Commission has declared Hickenlooper guilty of violating Colorado ethics laws when he accepted illegal gifts from corporate interests on two separate occasions, including his trip to Turin, Italy to participate in the Bilderberg conference, a secretive gathering of the world’s elite billionaires.
Before finding him guilty, Hickenlooper repeatedly refused to appear and testify, forcing the commission to hold him in contempt.
Schumer and the DSCC must be pretty nervous about their hand-picked candidate. Why else would they send one of their most powerful Washington legal guns, Marc Elias–who was legal counsel for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016–to oversee Hickenlooper’s defense. Mark Grueskin, one of Colorado’s most respected Democratic election law attorneys who represented Hickenlooper, apparently just didn’t meet the DSCC’s superior legal standards.
Remember, you’re a lot smarter and much more capable if you come from Washington, D.C. You can expect more involvement by the DSCC and Schumer in the Hickenlooper campaign in the aftermath of this fiasco. They’re responsible for this guy.
At least Elias was being paid by the DSCC and not taxpayers, unlike Hickenlooper’s attorney who has been paid more than $80,000 out of Colorado’s 9-11 Recovery Fund. What, you might ask, do Hickenlooper’s legal and ethical problems have to do with a fund originally created to help our state recover from the 9-11 terrorist attacks? Absolutely nothing.
But, remember, Hickenlooper is special. The rules don’t apply to him. He can just blow off a subpoena from the Independent Ethics Commission. He put Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser in the politically uncomfortable position of having to ask the Denver District Court to enforce the subpoena against Hickenlooper.
Apparently Hickenlooper did not learn anything from his earlier, pathetic claim that the media should be in his pocket and defend him against his accusers, declaring “you guys should be protecting me on stuff like this.”
He clearly thought the Independent Ethics Commission would ultimately be there to protect him against accusations if he stonewalled long enough. He was wrong. The commission voted unanimously to hold him in contempt, the first time such an action has been taken since it was created 14 years ago.
Former U.S. Attorney Bill Leone, a member of the commission who was appointed by Hickenlooper, said it best as he voted in favor of holding Hickenlooper in contempt: “The respondent (Hickenlooper) has indicated a disrespect for the commission, a disrespect for the law.”
Even after being held in contempt, he defiantly told the commission he would appear, but on his own timetable. He said he would appear almost two weeks later on June 16. The commission chairwoman, Elizabeth Espinosa Krupa–who was also appointed by Hickenlooper–rejected this saying “We’ve had assurances before he’d show and he didn’t.”
And from all of this we really have gotten to know the real John Hickenlooper. He really does think rules and laws do not apply to him. He really did expect the commission to cave because, after all, he is John Hickenlooper.
So did his legal and campaign teams support this arrogance by their candidate? I don’t think so. There is no doubt he has very professional people in his campaign and his Colorado legal counsel is highly regarded.
There is no way they advised him to blow off a subpoena from the commission. They clearly understood not only the political consequences of such behavior, they knew it was just plain wrong. This is all about John Hickenlooper, not the people around him.
As bad as being found guilty of violating ethics laws is, being found in contempt is in many ways far worse. It shows contempt not only for the ethics commission, it shows his contempt for the people of Colorado.
Colorado now knows John Hickenlooper is both guilty and contemptible.
Dick Wadhams is a Republican political consultant and a former Colorado Republican State Party Chairman.