Ethics panel to investigate complaint filed against King
A House ethics panel will meet today to determine whether Rep. Steve King improperly took travel money from his legislative office to pay for campaign expenses.
The panel was formed after a complaint was filed last month by Colorado Ethics Watch questioning whether the Grand Junction Republican had filed for travel-expense reimbursements for his legislative office that actually were used for campaign purposes.
King denied the charge, saying it was nothing more than a personal attack on him.
Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro told the Daily Sentinel on Tuesday that King’s own filings with the state raised enough red flags to prompt a House probe into the matter.
He said it appeared King filed for about $1,400 in reimbursement for trips between Denver and Grand Junction during the 2009 legislative session that also corresponded with campaign reimbursements.
Toro said his group’s probe isn’t saying King did anything wrong, just that an investigation is warranted.
“I don’t think this is the most complicated investigation in the world,” Toro said. “It’s really a question of: Are these billings really for the same travel, or was there some other travel, like a second vehicle?”
King said he already responded to the ethics panel and sent it documents to show he was not “double dipping,” as Ethics Watch has claimed.
“I question the timing of Ethics Watch, and I question their motivations,” King said. “This is one of those situations where they are trying to end my political career by attempting to assassinate my character. Their claims are absolutely wrong.”
King said he was further dismayed because damage to his reputation occurred as soon as the complaint was made public. He said the matter likely will become a campaign issue in his bid to replace Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, who isn’t running for re-election.
“There’s no taking this back,” King said. “When you question the honesty and integrity of someone, there is no way of recovering.”
In his letter to Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, Toro said public records showed King requested and received about $5,018 in mileage and other travel reimbursements from the state during last year’s session. At the same time, King’s campaign finance reports showed $1,408 was reimbursed to him for travel-related expenses during the same period, Toro’s letter said.
House rules give Carroll little choice in dealing with such complaints. The rules require an ethics committee be formed and a hearing held, which is scheduled for 8 a.m. today. If the panel ultimately determines a violation occurred, it can recommend a reprimand, censure or expulsion from the House.