Ex-Colorado secretary of state sues to block ethics hearing
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Former Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman is asking a judge to block the state Independent Ethics Commission from holding a hearing on a complaint against him.
Coffman filed suit in Denver District Court saying the complaint by Colorado Ethics Watch is frivolous and the commission has no jurisdiction to consider it.
The suit was filed late Wednesday and made public Thursday.
Coffman’s attorney, Doug Friednash, also asked the court to issue a stay barring the commission from taking any action.
The ethics complaint accuses Coffman of improperly allowing an employee who dealt with elections to also operate a partisan political business.
It also says he improperly approved electronic voting machines from a manufacturer with ties to a lobbying group that Coffman used when he ran for Congress.
Coffman, a Republican, was elected to Congress in November representing Denver’s southern suburbs. He has denied wrongdoing and says the complaint was meant to harass him.
A 2007 state audit concluded that Coffman, as secretary of state, failed to properly supervise his employees. Afterward, he set up a new policy preventing election workers on his staff from partisan activity.
Colorado Ethics Watch responded to the lawsuit by accusing Coffman of focusing technicalities and not the facts of the case. It said Coffman “will try anything to avoid accountability.”
The complaint was filed last year. In December, Coffman asked the commission to dismiss it, but panel members denied the request last week and scheduled a March 6 hearing on the matter.
The ethics commission was created last year, and Coffman’s hearing will be its first. The commission can make determinations that someone acted unethically, and possibly issue fines, but it is not a criminal court.
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