The Independent Ethics Commission announced earlier this week they would delay issuing a written opinion in the Hickenlooper ethics case until August 18th:
Today, Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission deferred approval of its formal opinion on John Hickenlooper’s ethics violations to its August 18 meeting.
— Justin Wingerter (@JustinWingerter) July 21, 2020
As Wingerter writes in Thursday’s Denver Post’s newsletter, one element of the delay is attributable to disagreement over whether the opinion should exonerate Hickenlooper for accepting a free private jet to Kimbal Musk’s wedding:
Commissioner Yeulin Willett asked Tuesday that a dissent of his be included in the final opinion. Willett was the only commissioner to vote in favor of finding a violation for Hickenlooper’s flight on a private jet to Kimbal Musk’s wedding in Texas. Several other commissioners were on the fence about the flight but ultimately voted against finding Hickenlooper in violation.
Leone objected to paragraph 105, which supposedly states Hickenlooper was found to have not violated the law during the Musk flight “because they are personal friends.” Leone said “the personal friend theory” was posited by Hickenlooper but not agreed to by commissioners and therefore shouldn’t be included. A lack of evidence, not Hickenlooper’s defense, swayed Leone.
Hickenlooper’s justification for accepting the free flight to Musk’s wedding has shifted over time. Initially Hickenlooper argued the flight was an honorarium for officiating Musk’s wedding and therefore wouldn’t be prohibited under Amendment 41.
As the complaint process wore on, Hickenlooper’s team changed their story arguing Hickenlooper actually reimbursed Musk with a $1000 check to Musk’s charity. Musk’s charity did not own the plane Hickenlooper traveled on.
Hickenlooper never explained in the hearing why he thought $1,000 came close to covering the cost of roundtrip travel to Texas on a corporate private jet.