DENVER — Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission will investigate allegations of misconduct related to travel by Gov. John Hickenlooper, the panel voted Tuesday.
The decision comes after a newly-formed non-profit, Public Trust Institute, filed a lengthy complaint with the commission on Oct. 12. Public Trust Institute is headed by former Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty, a one-time political adversary of Hickenlooper.
The 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 commission, in a unanimous vote Tuesday, deemed the group’s complaint as non-frivolous. The governor has 30 days to respond to the commission.
In response to the panel's decision, Hickenlooper's office said they are confident that “this will be resolved quickly and in our favor.” They maintain the complaint “is a political stunt aimed at influencing the upcoming election.”
In an interview with Denver7 after the complaint was filed Oct. 12, McNulty said there are some red flags concerning the governor’s travels.
“This isn’t a case where it happened only once. What we uncovered is, there is a pattern of abuse where the governor not only accepted these gifts but by redacting the activity from his public calendar, he really tried to cover it up,” said McNulty.
Hickenlooper wouldn't need to report travel if he personally paid for it up-front. Any reimbursements afterward would need to be reported.
In September, Hickenlooper filed paperwork to form a federal political action committee amid lingering speculation that he may be considering a presidential bid. He is term-limited.
“If the governor did violate the law and if there is a pattern of abuse, then he needs to come clean and make it right by the people of Colorado - and make it right with the Ethics Commission as well, don’t let this drag out,” McNulty said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report