One top Democrat’s latest bid for high office has sustained potentially serious damage this week.
John Hickenlooper, former Colorado governor, failed presidential candidate, and current U.S. Senate hopeful, has been found guilty of violating an ethics rule against accepting gifts while in office, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
“Just accentuates the cynicism”
Specifically, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission found that he violated Amendment 41, a rule passed in 2006 prohibiting such gifts.
According to evidence cited in the report, Hickenlooper flew on the private jet of a campaign donor and attended a conference in Italy — both of which were found to be violations. One member of the board stressed the importance of holding elected officials accountable.
“If we allow this kind of special privately financed treatment for elected officials it just accentuates the cynicism in the public that led to Amendment 41,” the member said.
In addition to a unanimous guilty vote on the ethics complaint, Hickenlooper was held in contempt.
Reports indicate he ignored both a subpoena from the commission and a judge’s order in refusing to appear remotely during the hearing. He argued that the format, which was implemented to limit exposure to the coronavirus, would not allow him a fair trial.
As a result, the federal judge overseeing the proceedings took action. The Free Beacon reported that this was the first time the commission has held someone in contempt.
In the end, Hickenlooper did decide to make a virtual appearance on Friday, only to be found guilty of the violations.
The former governor is challenging incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in the November election. A Democratic primary in the state is scheduled for June 30. It remains to be seen whether the decision will impact his candidacy going forward and a campaign spokesperson downplayed the charges as “politically motivated.”
Upon exiting the 2020 presidential primary race in August, Hickenlooper described Gardner as “amazingly vulnerable” and signaled he would be strongly considering throwing his hat in the ring to run against him.
The latest development might prove to be a vulnerability for the challenger, though, especially if enough Democratic voters believe his unethical behavior ought to keep him from the office.