If it seems like some special interests are getting good seats at Gov. Polis’s table, it’s because they are and Polis is charging buckets of money for the privilege of influencing his policies.
Polis’s backdoor lobbying scam is funded by mysterious backers and portrayed to the public as just a bunch of government employees doing their job.
The racket is revealed in an investigation by The Sun News in partnership with CBS4 Denver, which shows Polis’s donors and special interest nonprofits spent more than $1 million to pay the salaries and costs to hire his top policy advisors.
The governor’s special adviser on climate change — tasked with moving Colorado to 100% renewable energy and hitting pollution reduction targets — is funded through the U.S. Climate Alliance with money from a foundation backed by the grandson of Walmart’s founder.
His special adviser on immigrants and refugees is paid with money from the Emerson Collective, a social impact firm led by the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
There’s little transparency and no legislative oversight of the governor’s special advisors, who come with strings attached.
They’re not just advising Polis on how to achieve these special interest goals, but the employees are required to report back to the foundations and donors who hire them.
In addition to his climate change and refugee advisors, special interests are also paying for Polis’s advisors on energy and water, early childhood, senior citizens, and disability issues.
A Polis spokesman totally defended the practice by pointing out, it’s not illegal to do this. The spokesman said state law allows Polis to accept private donations to fund the governor’s office, and by extension fund public policy.
The state legislature has turned a blind eye to the governor’s office and allowed Polis to operate without oversight or transparency even before Polis went power mad in the pandemic and issued more than 100 emergency executive orders.
It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to get a tighter rein on the governor’s office and conduct some oversight on these policy-for-hire lobbyists.