Ethics violations top year-end list

Misdeeds of public trustees get attention of Colorado Ethics Watch

Colorado’s disgraced public trustees were among the top five ethics-violation stories of the year, according to Colorado Ethics Watch.

That story began when former Mesa County Trustee Paul Brown changed where he published foreclosure notices without going out to bid, and then later promising to go to bid even though he had already signed a contract to publish the notices with one publishing company.

The story then later expanded to include other trustees in the state.

By law, trustee duties in the 11 largest counties in the state, including Mesa, are handle by a public trustee, 10 of which are appointed by the governor.

But through a series of stories in The Daily Sentinel and The Denver Post, it was alleged that several were mismanaging their offices. Some faced allegations of double-dipping on the use of office automobiles, others for taking employees out to expensive lunches and still others for using public money to pay personal expenses.

As a result, Gov. John Hickenlooper demanded the resignation of all 10, later reappointing five of those trustees who he deemed were running their offices properly.

Earlier in the year, Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, had tried to do away with the offices during this year’s legislative session, but the measure was watered down by other lawmakers. He plans to renew his efforts when the Legislature convenes next month.

The other top ethics violations of the year as cited by the left-leaning ethics watchdog group included Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

One of them was Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, over an issue that involved a drunken driving traffic stop by a Denver police officer, allegations of the use of a little-known legislative privilege to get out of it, a House Ethics Committee probe into the matter and Bradford’s threat to leave the GOP over it all.

The event directly contributed to Bradford’s decision not to seek a third term in the Colorado House, clearing the way for Rep.-elect Jared Wright to win the seat despite alleged ethical issues of his own.


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