John Hickenlooper must testify in his ethics trial, whether it takes place in person or remotely, Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission ruled Wednesday.
The former Colorado governor and current Democratic U.S. Senate candidate threatened last week not to show up to the hearing if it isn’t held in person, citing issues of due process.
A dark-money group called the Public Trust Institute accused Hickenlooper in 2018 of violating Amendment 41 of the state Constitution, which prohibits state employees and officials from accepting gifts worth more than $53 per year. The Public Trust Institute was formed just before the accusation and is led by Frank McNulty, a Republican former Colorado House speaker.
The ethics commission conducted a yearlong investigation into some flights Hickenlooper took during his last year as governor.
In Wednesday’s order, the ethics commission found no legal basis for taking the case to Denver District Court and said the agreement Hickenlooper’s attorney signed in February saying he would voluntarily testify is binding.
If he declines to appear, McNulty can subpoena Hickenlooper to testify.
The Denver Post has requested a comment from Hickenlooper’s campaign.
The hearing is still scheduled to be held via video June 4, but if Hickenlooper and McNulty both ask by Thursday afternoon to wait to hold the hearing when it’s safe to do so in person with — not before August — then the commission would consider a change, according to the order. That would mean yet another delay for a case that was initially scheduled to be heard in February.
But, if the pandemic continues making an in-person hearing untenable, the order stated, the hearing will take place with remotely with no consideration of an extension.
Hickenlooper is the presumed front-runner in the June 30 Democratic U.S. Senate primary vs. former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.
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