Colorado’s civil rights division is in worse shape than even the U.S. Supreme Court could imagine — it’s pretty much a broken and abused system, an audit demanded by state lawmakers reported Wednesday.
Investigations take almost a year to complete, and when the commission took any action at all, they did so in secret so there’s no record for lawmakers to determine if the system is working for Coloradans who file discrimination complaints.
“Because the Commission makes decisions in closed meetings, there is no opportunity for independent observation of the fairness and consistency of its operations,” the audit said. “The lack of documentary evidence of its decision making compounds the problem, resulting in a process that is opaque to Colorado citizens and policy makers. Even our audit is unable to provide assurance that the Commission is operating in a fair and accountable manner.”
That’s it in a nutshell, a commission dedicated to preventing discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation fails to operate in a fair manner.
The irony is sadly astounding.
The U.S. Supreme Court sharply criticized the commission when it ruled they were “neither tolerant nor respectful” and acted with bias in the same-sex wedding cake fiasco of 2012.
Lawmakers threatened to defund the commission last year, but in a last minute deal agreed to order this audit first to see if there were problems that could be fixed.
If commissioners insist on casting their votes in secret executive session as the audit discovered, then this is a problem that must be fixed.
The audit reviewed more than 200 cases handled during 2017 and 2018 by the commission, which is appointed by the governor.
For those keeping score at home, John Hickenlooper was governor during that period.