A nonprofit group led by a former political adversary of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper alleged Friday that Hickenlooper failed to disclose as gifts extensive travel on flights paid for by others.
The governor's office disputed the complaint and responded:
"It looks like the organization was created in the last few days to trump up frivolous accusations. They ignored the Independent Ethics Commission process by going straight to the media. This is clearly a political stunt aimed at influencing the upcoming election."
The Denver Post reported that the newly-formed Public Trust Institute filed the lengthy complaint with the state Independent Ethics Commission. Former Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty, who directs the group, clashed with the governor in 2012 over Hickenlooper's support for civil unions.
A 2006 constitutional amendment bans most gifts to elected state officials and all in exchange for services. A strict gift limit of $59 applies, with certain exceptions, to state elected officials.
Friday's complaint cites dozens of flights taken by Hickenlooper since he assumed office in 2011. McNulty's group said it filed the complaint after comparing dates when the governor was traveling with details in campaign finance reports.
A 2006 constitutional amendment bans most gifts to elected state officials and all in exchange for services. A strict gift limit of $59 applies to state elected officials. The ethics commission first considers whether to investigate any complaints and, ultimately, can issue fines or other penalties.
The institute asked the commission to determine whether Hickenlooper accepted other benefits, including hotel stays, while attending events in Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. Its complaint cites several flights taken by the governor on jets owned by corporate entities such as homebuilder M.D.C. Holdings and Liberty Media Corp.
Hickenlooper wouldn't need to report travel if he personally paid for it up-front. Any reimbursements afterward would need to be reported.
In September, Hickenlooper filed paperwork to form a federal political action committee amid lingering speculation that he may be considering a presidential bid. He is term-limited.
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