For the most part, nuanced bill negotiations and lobbying that take place at the Capitol during the legislative session remain largely behind closed doors and out of the public eye. But when someone doesn’t play by the rules, they better prepare to have that dirty laundry aired.
Such is the case when a piece of legislation failed last week because a lobbyist allegedly lied to lawmakers about the Governor’s position on the bill. The lie was allegedly due to his own personal vendetta against the bill’s sponsor. The story has received only minor media coverage, which is surprising, since it’s a prime example of what people hate about the system – that it is corrupt and rigged in favor of special interests.
House Bill 1174, sponsored by Rep. Jon Becker and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, would have made it easier for people to mount legal challenges over conservation easements tax credits. The lobbyist for the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, Benjamin Waters, is being accused of lying about whether Gov. John Hickenlooper would sign a compromise bill, which the sponsors believe impacted the outcome of the committee vote where it was killed.
House and Senate rules forbid lobbyists from lying to lawmakers about a bill, and Becker has already told The Sterling Journal-Advocate that he is going to file an ethics complaint against Waters.
Regardless of how this shakes out, however, it is a public airing of grievances that underscore why outsiders like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been so successful. People are sick of special interests doing whatever it takes to further their agenda.