Is another Hickenlooper scandal on the verge of becoming public?
According to documents acquired by the Colorado Springs Independent, the El Pomar Foundation made a mysterious $15 million payment in 2018 to Transit Mix Concrete Co. after the two parties were embroiled in a dispute over the controversial Hitch Rack Ranch quarry. The payment is an astounding sum to come from a charity locked in a bureaucratic battle with a private company.
At issue are the actions of longtime CU Regent Kyle Hybl, who at the time was El Pomar’s COO, and a member of then-Gov. Hickenlooper’s inner circle. Hybl reached out to Hickenlooper’s office directly to lobby against the quarry permit being sought by Transit Mix Concrete from the Mined Land Reclamation Board (MLRB).
According to the report, state statute prohibits agencies from “receiving or considering comments or materials from anyone without notice to other parties, to assure that all parties to an agency decision are afforded due process.”
Hybl met with Jacki Melmed, Hickenlooper’s chief legal counsel, and Patrick Meyers, Hickenlooper’s chief of staff on March 9, 2018 to lobby against Transit Mix Concrete Co.’s permit application.
After the meeting, Melmed reached out directly to Bob Randall, a member of the MLRB, to privately discuss El Pomar’s objections to the project. Randall replied the project would likely be approved by the MLRB since their application met the statutory requirements.
Less than a month later on April 26, Randall flipped and voted against issuing Transit Mix Concrete Co. their permit, killing the application.
Randall claims he flipped because of environmental testimony at the hearing, but a March 27, 2018 email exchange between Melmed and Randall acquired by a CORA requests from Transit Mix’s law firm was completely redacted by the state.
Flash forward to December 2018, and the El Pomar Foundation cut a staggering $15 million check to Transit Mix Concrete Co.
Neither Melmed or Meyers responded to the CSI for comment.
The sequence of events described by the CSI has disturbing implications for both the El Pomar Foundation and Hickenlooper.
By all appearances, Hickenlooper’s senior aides my have unlawfully intervened on behalf of one of Colorado Springs’ most politically connected organizations to kill Transit Mix Concrete Co.’s quarry permit application.
Was Hickenlooper aware of their actions? And if so, was El Pomar’s eye-popping $15 million settlement an attempt to cover up the illegal actions of El Pomar and Hickenlooper’s close allies?
Hickenlooper’s campaign claims the former governor did not influence the MLRB’s vote, but this entire situation looks to have the makings of another scandal that could rock his U.S. Senate campaign.