Colorado State Senate moving forward with ethics complaint investigation against Faith Winter following public intoxication at meeting

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Democratic state Sen. Faith Winter at the Capitol, March 1, 2023.

The Colorado State Senate is moving forward with an ethics committee investigation following a complaint against Democratic state Sen. Faith Winter alleging that she appeared to be intoxicated during a public community meeting in Northglenn in April. 

The city council filed the complaint to the legislature in May in a 9-0 vote and said Winter failed to “uphold her office with integrity.” 

Winter, the Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader, has publicly apologized for what happened. During the legislative session, she stepped down as the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.

“I know the way I showed up at the community meeting was inappropriate and hard for those in attendance,” Winter said. “That night led me to seek treatment for substance abuse disorder, which was difficult, especially with the eyes of the world watching, but I’m glad I did.”

While Winter doesn’t dispute that she was struggling with alcohol abuse, the panel will determine whether it was an ethical breach and if there should be any consequences for Winter. 

Democratic state Sen. Julie Gonzales will chair the five-member committee. Democratic state Sens. James Coleman and Dylan Roberts, Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, and Republican state Sen. Bob Gardner will also sit on it.

Why did Northglenn file the complaint?

Northglenn Mayor Meredith Leighty said the decision to file the ethics complaint wasn’t taken lightly but was the responsible thing to do. 

“I am pleased we were taken seriously. I hope the outcome of the investigation benefits all the people state Senator Winter represents, especially our Northglenn residents,” Leighty said in a written statement. 

She also said the Northglenn City Council felt strongly the issue needed to be addressed given Winter’s behavior at a large public meeting, adding that they hope she has the time and space to focus on her health.

What are the next steps?

It’s not yet clear when the ethics committee will hold a public hearing, or if the panel will enact disciplinary measures. Winter returned to work at the State Capitol for the final part of the legislative session, which ended on May 8. 

Winter urged the city council to, “lift up those in our community who are going through hard times, not tear them down,” and said she hoped to reduce the stigma for those seeking treatment.