Hickenlooper: Press Should ‘Protect’ Me From Ethics Complaint

Former governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper / Getty Images

Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper told a local television station it should be "protecting" him from an ethics complaint alleging that he improperly received gifts as governor of Colorado.

"You guys should be protecting me on stuff like this, where there's no clear—how could there be—what's the confusion, that I had a private meeting?" Hickenlooper said during an interview with KUSA. In the interview, he discussed a Colorado Independent Ethics Commission (CIEC) investigation into a 2018 complaint alleging that he had accepted travel perks, including free jet rides, from friends while he was governor.

"There were no private meetings. That I somehow saved money myself? I wasn't going to pay for that plane ticket. I saved the state money," Hickenlooper said. "You know, I'll be very surprised if they [the CIEC] come back and say in any way this is unethical."

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Last week, the CIEC released a fact-finding report about the complaint against Hickenlooper. The report drew no conclusions, but but was created in response to allegations that the former governor may have violated state ethics laws and guidelines on gifts.

The CIEC's report was only a preliminary step in the investigative process, and was mainly a collection of interviews with persons who had knowledge of the trips identified in the complaint.

Republican Frank McNulty, the former state house speaker who filed the complaint, told the Washington Free Beacon that with the release of the report, a hearing must now be set within 90 days. Sometime after that the commission will draw conclusions and close the matter.

After dropping out of the presidential race—in which he seldom polled over 1 percent—Hickenlooper entered Colorado's Senate race in August. If he wins his party's nomination, Hickenlooper will face Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Hickenlooper shortly after he announced his Senate run, a decision that drew criticism from progressive candidates already in the race. Six candidates sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and DSCC chairwoman Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D., Nev.) to protest the quick endorsement, calling Hickenlooper "utterly disrespectful and tone deaf."