First reported in the Denver Business Journal on Friday, January 16th, 2009
A lobbyist for the Colorado Chiropractic Association on Friday told a legislative ethics committee that he wasn’t aware he did anything wrong when he lobbied a state legislator for the election of a new House minority leader.
Erik Groves, an attorney who represents the association as a lobbyist, said he did not know he violated a House ethics rule when he began to ask freshman Rep. Cindy Acree, R-Aurora, to support Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, in Balmer’s bid to become the House Republicans’ leader.
When he met with Acree shortly before Republicans were to vote on a new minority leader and shortly after the Republicans’ leader announced plans to resign, Groves said he wanted to “make good” on a $300 campaign pledge that the chiropractors’ association intended to send to Acree prior to the election.
But Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, who chairs the committee, questioned whether the incident “screamed of vote-buying.”
Groves, who has been a lobbyist for two years, is being investigated by a joint ethics committee for violation of a House rule barring lobbyist from influencing lawmakers in leadership elections at the legislature.
“I was not aware of the rule,” Groves told the committee. “I thought leadership was like any other vote in the Capitol. That you could express views on it. I didn’t see it as something that couldn’t be discussed.”
First reported in the Rocky Mountain News on Friday, January 16th, 2009
Lobbyist Erik Groves told a legislative committee today that he was "freaking out, to use the technical term" when he learned that he never should have approached a legislator about a House leadership race.
He said he made a mistake, but he never engaged in "vote buying" as has been speculated.
"I thought leadership was like any other vote here at the Capitol and you express your views on it," Groves said. "I'm contrite that this happened."
Groves lobbies for the Colorado Chiropractic Association, which supported Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, in the race for minority leader.
Groves in December tried to speak to Rep.-elect Cindy Acree, R-Aurora, about the race. He also told her he had a check for her from the association's political-action committee.
"Monday morning, you're trying to contact her. You have a $300 check for her. That practically screams vote buying," said Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.
Morse heads a three-member committee was appointed by legislative leaders to review an ethics complaint against Groves.
Legislative rules prohibit a lobbyist from becoming an "active participant" in a leadership race.
First reported in The Gazette on Thursday, January 15th, 2009
DENVER • Will it be higher education? What about the Department of Public Safety? Or K-12 programs? What if two dozen agencies will have their funding cut completely?
Those were just some of the possibilities buzzing around the Capitol this past week as lawmakers debated where hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts will have to be made. The questions could be answered as soon as this morning, when Gov. Bill Ritter's director of the office of state planning will deliver proposed rollbacks to the Joint Budget Committee.
Ritter, a Democrat, said in his State of the State address last week that he'll seek an across-the-board 10 percent budget cut from each state department, which would total roughly $800 million in cuts. The Legislature is facing an estimated $631 million shortfall for the current fiscal year due to the economic downturn, but many lawmakers say they fear the actual number will be much greater.
Colorado's constitutional funding restrictions, however, have left many legislators pointing to a single target - higher education.
"We are completely boxed in. Higher education will be where the cuts will have to come," said Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, a former member of the JBC. "The people of this state have dictated where we have to go, (because of) TABOR. People say, well, we have limited options. That's not true. We have no options."
Morse pointed out that the top half-dozen departments funded by the state eat up 94 percent of the state's $18.6 billion budget, but that all of those except for higher education are protected either by state or federal law.
The Taxpayers Bill of Rights, written by Colorado Springs anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce, prohibits the Legislature from raising taxes without a vote of the people, and a separate constitutional provision precludes state expenditures from growing by more than 6 percent each year.JBC Vice Chairman Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, agreed with Morse that the state's colleges and universities are in the cross hairs. "We're going to lose another generation of kids. Literally, we're going to cause dropouts over the next few years," he said.
First reported in The Gazette on Thursday, January 15th, 2009
A former Pueblo County sheriff accused of sexual misconduct and extortion while in office is among four finalists being considered to head up the Fountain Police Department.
"I don't think it hinders me at all because it was all political," Dan Corsentino said Thursday of the accusations in 2004 that he made unwanted advances toward four women. One of the women also claimed that a photographer threatened to release nude photos of her unless she backed off claims that Corsentino sexually pursued her while her husband was in jail.
The district attorney in Pueblo determined there was not enough evidence to charge Corsentino after a five-month investigation.
"Since that time, I've had a number of background checks," Corsentino said, citing a check related to his position as one of two finalists for director of FEMA's Region 8, which includes Colorado. He did not get the position.
"I have a very high government clearance," he said
Corsentino left office in 2007 after being elected to four terms as Pueblo County sheriff, during which time he was credited with bringing a high-level of professionalism and modern technology to the office.
The other candidates for Fountain police chief are: Jeffery Brandau of Topeka, Kan.; Jay Burch of Mount Pleasant, Texas; and James Grayson of Colorado Springs. The department has 42 sworn officers."I will tell you that our final decision will be very holistic," said Scott Trainor, Fountain city manager. "We are looking at every aspect of the person's life, career, etc. That will come into play for all the candidates."