John Hickenlooper is now facing a complaint filed with the Treasury Department accusing him of misusing that 9/11 fund to pay for his ethics defense lawyers.
Hickenlooper used a 9/11 recovery fund to pay his private lawyer $525 an hour in his ethics trial where he was found guilty of violating the Colorado Constitution.
According to the most recent tally, Hickenlooper spent more than $150,000 for his lawyer, plus $13,000 to build a campaign style “legacy” website.
John Hickenlooper’s attorney billed the state $16,708 for his work on the ethics case in June, according to an invoice I received via CORA.
This brings the total to $150,146 that taxpayers have spent on Hickenlooper’s ethics defense. #cosen #copolitics
— Justin Wingerter (@JustinWingerter) August 6, 2020
When @Hickenlooper was Governor, he used $13,000 of taxpayer dollars to build a campaign-style website highlighting his “legacy.”
It used to look like this ⬇️ But… then we bought it.
See for yourself. https://t.co/VRcyVT2dm8#COSen #copolitics pic.twitter.com/ORtVw4wo8U
— The Senate Majority (@NRSC) January 29, 2020
Former Democrat Senate candidate Lorena Garcia reacted to Hickenlooper’s massive legal bills with disgust, and called for the state to stop using taxpayer resources to defend politicians implicated in illegal conduct.
I’ve heard this is normal for state officials to charge tax payers to pay their legal fees. Is this true? If it, its a practice that must stop. If you do something wrong, illegal, unethical in your job, its on you.
— Put People First🌹 (@lorenaforsenate) August 6, 2020
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn requested the formal investigation with the Treasury and called Hickenlooper’s use of the 9/11 fund “extremely concerning.” “The Inspector General is the appropriate and respectable organization to conduct a non-partisan investigation of this serious allegation,” he said.
Lamborn’s request follows a similar move from State Sen. Paul Lundeen, who called for an inquiry after Democrats in the state legislature killed an effort to audit the fund.
“There is no reason, save for one, that Democrats would block the Auditor from looking into this use of the 9/11 funds,” Lundeen said at the time. “Protecting John Hickenlooper’s failing U.S. Senate campaign should not be a part of the analysis, yet here we are, legislative Democrats blocking a review of the potential misuse of 9/11 funds to protect John Hickenlooper.”
State Sen. Rhonda Fields voted against auditing the fund, despite her daughter working for Hickenlooper’s campaign.
According to the Denver Post, Hickenlooper also utilized the fund for a number of other questionable expenses.
But auditors would also have found expenses that less evidently align with the federal law’s restrictions. Between mid-2014 and the start of 2019 — a time span that includes the end of Hickenlooper’s first term in office and his entire second term — those expenses include $20,381 in rentals of a state-owned aircraft, $111,842 on “personal services” and at least $399,006 in dues to groups like the National Governors Association, Western Governors Association and National Association of State Budget Officers.
National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez said taxpayers deserve clarity on whether Hickenlooper’s raiding of a post-9/11 recovery fund for political expenses was illegal.
“Hickenlooper’s refusal to support a state-level audit or release additional travel records about his first seven years in office underscores his continued lack of transparency. His pattern of reckless spending habits would be disastrous for taxpayers.”
No word yet on whether Hickenlooper will demand media protection from the feds.