Hickenlooper ethics complaint moves forward as new details emerge

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Democratic presidential candidate and former Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper delivers a campaign speech at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. 22 of the 23 politicians seeking the Democratic Party presidential nomination will be visiting the fair this week, six months ahead of the all-important Iowa caucuses. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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DENVER -- A yearlong ethics complaint into former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper continued Thursday with the release of an independent report by Colorado's Independent Ethics Commission. The commission did not issue a ruling and will conduct hearings in the coming weeks and months.

The report focuses on Hickenlooper's domestic and international travel in 2018 and whether he violated Colorado's gift ban.

Amendment 41 in Colorado law says elected officials can not accept gifts worth more than $65 unless they are directed at the state and not the person or from a personal friend.

READ: Independent Ethics Commission report

Below is a timeline of allegations of illegal travel as outlined in the report:

January 2018: Private jet travel by friend from New Jersey to Colorado

March 2018: Private jet travel by MDC holdings to Connecticut

April 2018: Private jet travel from Elon Musk family to Colorado

June 2018: International travel to a conference in Turin, Italy

August 2018: Private jet travel to Jackson Hole from a friend and chief of staff

Hickenlooper told FOX31 last year he had no regrets about his travel, calling the investigation a "political stunt" and that he takes private jets as "rarely as possible."

The complaint was filed by Frank McNulty, a former Republican lawmaker.

"Elected officials are not allowed to take anything of value from lobbyists," McNulty said, adding, "What it screams is Hickenlooper violated state law."

NEW INFORMATION AND QUESTIONS

State law gives leeway to politicians if a gift is from a close personal friend. Hickenlooper's relationship with the private jet providers will be key moving forward.

One interesting fact from the report concerned MDC holdings. Hickenlooper told the commission that he and Larry Mizel, the chairman of MDC holdings, do not interact on a business-related basis.

However, when MDC legal counsel Michael Touff was interviewed by the ethics commission, the following interaction occurred:

"On October 8, 2019, Mr. Touff was requested to respond to one additional investigatory inquiry: 'During the planning for and events related to the commissioning of the USS Colorado, did either MDC Holdings or the Foundation have any business pending before the State of Colorado on which Gov. Hickenlooper could have had an impact?' Mr. Touff never responded to this inquiry."

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