A good first step on public trustees

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May 23, 2012

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
734 South 7th Street
Grand Junction, CO 81501

Dear Editors:

  Last year, the Colorado Public Trustees Association (“CPTA”) allowed lawyers specializing in foreclosures and a software vendor to defray the cost of its convention in Blackhawk.  After Colorado Ethics Watch complained, the CPTA admitted to violating state ethics laws and agreed to pay a nearly $3000 fine.

  Most recently, as the Daily Sentinel editorialized yesterday – “A good first step on public trustees” (May 23, 2012) – Governor Hickenlooper signed into law a bill introduced by Republican State Representative Ray Scott.

  As originally proposed – that legislation could have eliminated the eleven Public Trustees appointed by our Democratic Governor in Colorado’s most populous counties. 

  As enacted, Scott’s bill leaves Public Trustees intact, but imposes accountability by requiring, first, that they “submit annual budgets to their county commissioners for review”, second, that they be subject to “an annual audit to ascertain how funds are being handled”, and, third, that they comply with state and/or county procurement procedures for purchases of $20,000+.

  Similarly situated to the public trust regarding elections are Colorado’s 64 County Clerks and Recorders (3 Unaffiliated, 18 Democrats, and 43 Republicans), who together constitute the Colorado County Clerks Association (“CCCA”).

  Even though partially funded by taxpayers, the CCCA refuses to disclose its other sources of funding – because its lobbying efforts to gut the Colorado Open Records Act by creating a “blackout” period until elections are certified are being funded by electronic voting machine manufacturers. 

  Thus, the Sentinel should endorse similar accountability for the CCCA as for Public Trustees.  The CCCA should be required by law to submit its annual budget to the Secretary of State (“SOS”) for review; to be subject to annual audits to ascertain and disclose how funds are being obtained and disbursed; and be prohibited by law from accepting any funds from any vendor with whom any of its members does business. 

              Bill Hugenberg
              543 Rim Drive
              Grand Junction, CO 81507
Word Count = 300         257-1998

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