DENVER — A committee of six lawmakers decided Tuesday morning to officially dismiss a pending ethics complaint against a lobbyist for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
Joe Neville, who allegedly threatened state Rep. Cheri Gerou with political retribution in February if she didn’t oppose all of the Democratic bills aimed at strengthening Colorado gun laws earlier this year, could still face disciplinary action including a two-year suspension of his lobbying privileges at the Capitol.
The six-member executive committee, which consists of four Democrats and two Republicans, decided unanimously that it couldn’t proceed without more information from Neville, who refused to appear before the committee to answer more questions after doing so once earlier this year.
“We just didn’t have enough information to move forward on the complaint,” said Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver. “But we’re still talking about other actions we can take.”
That move comes after the ethics committee convened to investigate the incident decided in August that it couldn’t go any further without additional information from Neville.
Gerou filed the complaint after the incident, which began when she approached Neville and complained that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners was sending postcards to her constituents advising them to tell her to vote against the gun bills (RMGO’s executive director, Dudley Brown, calls the tactic “suppression fire”).
According to Gerou, Neville responded with a smirk and she responded by telling him, “F*** off.”
“You just earned yourself another round of mailers in your district,” Neville responded, which was the basis for the complaint, given that lobbyists are forbidden from verbally threatening lawmakers with political retribution.
RMGO has made no secret of its distaste for Gerou, one of the more moderate members of the House GOP caucus, and is already supporting former state Sen. Tim Neville, Joe’s father, in a Senate District 16 race against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Nicholson of Blackhawk.
Gerou, who lives within that district, is also considering challenging Nicholson, which explains why RMGO has gone after her, hoping to discourage her from entering the race but simultaneously itching for a primary fight.
Gerou has yet to decide if she’ll run.
Brown and RMGO are also named in a federal lawsuit for the organization’s role in a campaign mailer last year that misappropriated a photograph of a gay couple in New York in order to highlight another Republican senator’s support for civil unions legislation.
An attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which filed the suit, attended Tuesday’s hearing.