colorado-state-capitolColorado may get high marks for its natural beauty and lifestyle, but the Center for Public Integrity once again has dinged the state in its annual State Integrity Investigation in which Colorado earned a D+ overall.  To be fair to Colorful Colorado, that D+ grade put Colorado 13th overall, so this grading system is clearly not on a Bell Curve.

First the good. Colorado received its highest grades in state budgeting process (B+) and internal auditing (B-). In comparison to other states, Colorado excelled in legislative accountability (3rd), judicial accountability (6th), electoral oversight (8th), state budget process (9th), and procurement (10th).

But, then, there’s the ugly. Colorado received F grades in public access to information and ethics enforcement agencies. We happen to agree that the state’s ethics commission is lame, but for a very different reason – it’s filled with a bunch of partisan hacks. Colorado also received a D- in state pension fund management (no kidding) and state civil service management as well as Ds in lobbying disclosure, judicial accountability, and political financing.

From the report:

“Yes, there is good news on the accountability front: Colorado has a transparent state budget process, generally accountable executive and legislative branches, and a robust, well-staffed office of the State Auditor.

“But then there’s the risk: government here has ways to keep public information secret. Gift reports, personal financial disclosures, and money-in-politics filings of politicians and judges are not audited for compliance. The state’s ethics commission, staffed with a single professional, is understaffed, under-funded, and lacks independence: it relies on the attorney general’s office for legal counsel — even though that office is also subject to the commission’s oversight.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that the Center for Public Integrity is run by a bunch of Democrats, so any complaints the group has are largely against political adversaries. However, the organization points out some real loopholes for Democrats to exploit potential problem areas.