John Hickenlooper faces subpoena to testify about private jet flights – By Madison Dibble (Washington Examiner) / June 1 2020
Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission voted to subpoena former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper as part of an investigation into gifts he accepted while leading the state.
The five members of the commission voted unanimously to subpoena Hickenlooper to testify virtually on Thursday about his use of private jet flights from wealthy friends and businesses during his tenure as governor from 2011 to 2019. Hickenlooper’s attorney, Mark Grueskin, argued the former governor should not have to testify until he can do so in-person, something that cannot happen under the policies in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. The commission disagreed.
“If we didn’t have all the problems we have in the world right now, I would prefer an in-person hearing. Who wouldn’t? It is a preferable format. But I don’t have any confidence at this point that the parties will ever be able to agree on a time or a procedure for an in-person hearing,” said Commissioner William Leone.
The testimony is set to take place via video on Thursday, though Grueskin plans to appeal the decision to the Denver District Court. The Public Trust Institute, the group that filed the ethics complaint against Hickenlooper, argued that Hickenlooper must testify on Thursday to allow the 18-month-long case to move forward.
The Public Trust Institute accused Hickenlooper of violating the state constitution’s provisions prohibiting elected officials from accepting extravagant gifts while in office. The group argued that Hickenlooper’s use of private jets to fly to several events violated the constitutional provision barring the acceptance of gifts valued at more than $53.
Hickenlooper has denied any wrongdoing and claimed the Public Trust Institute was politically motivated and working to twist the state’s gifting laws. His spokeswoman, Melissa Miller, called the Public Trust Institute “a dark money Republican group” that was formed days before filing the complaint against Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper, who briefly ran for president in 2020, is running for Senate in Colorado. He faces a primary election against former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff on June 30. The winner of the primary will face incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in the general election in November.