Hickenlooper’s office labels complaint a political stunt

DENVER -- Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper's office on Friday called an ethics complaint filed against him a stunt aimed at influencing the November election.

Gubernatorial spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery responded to claims by a nonprofit group led by a former political adversary of Hickenlooper's that the governor failed to disclose as gifts travel on flights paid for by others.

The Denver Post reported Friday that a newly-formed group called the Public Trust Institute filed the complaint with the state Independent Ethics Commission. Former Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty, who directs the group, clashed with the governor in 2012 over Hickenlooper's support for civil unions.

"It looks like the organization was created in the last few days to trump up frivolous accusations," Montgomery said in a statement. "This is clearly a political stunt aimed at influencing the upcoming election."

Hickenlooper is term-limited and is not up for re-election. The ethics committee's rules of procedure state the panel will attempt to keep a complaint confidential "until a determination is made as to whether or not the complaint is frivolous."

A 2006 constitutional amendment bans most gifts to elected state officials and all in exchange for services. A strict gift limit of $59 applies, with certain exceptions, to state elected officials.

Friday's complaint cites dozens of flights taken by Hickenlooper since he assumed office in 2011. McNulty's group said it filed the complaint after comparing dates when the governor was traveling with details in campaign finance reports.

The institute asked the commission to determine whether Hickenlooper accepted other benefits, including hotel stays, while attending events in Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. Its complaint cites several flights taken by the governor on jets owned by corporate entities such as homebuilder M.D.C. Holdings and Liberty Media Corp.

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