Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is now seeking the Democratic Senate nomination, refused to comply with a subpoena to virtually appear before the state’s Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) on Thursday.
Hickenlooper was expected to appear over potential violations of the state’s ban on gifts to elected officials for flying aboard private jets with rich friends and businesses, according to the Denver Post.
Suzanne Staiert of the Public Trust Institute (PTI) who filed the complaint, said Hickenlooper’s behavior illustrated “a pattern of disregard to the law.”
“I believe our subpoena was very clear… he currently is in contempt of that subpoena,” said Commissioner William Leone at the virtual proceedings Thursday over Hickenlooper’s absence, reported Justin Wingerter of the Denver Post.
The commission then voted 5-0 unanimously for the state attorney general’s office to enforce the subpoena and continued to move on with the hearing with Hickenlooper’s attorney, Mark Grueskin, who later clarified that the former governor would not be appearing.
“At this time, we call John Hickenlooper," says Staiert, attorney for the complainant.
“Governor Hickenlooper is not in attendance," his attorney says
Committee chair: "Your client is refusing to appear subject to our subpoena, is that correct?"
Grueskin: “He is not appearing"
— Justin Wingerter (@JustinWingerter) June 4, 2020
The commission had voted on Monday to compel Hickenlooper to testify, a move that was contested by Hickenlooper’s legal representation arguing that virtual testimony would infringe on Hickenlooper’s rights to due process. The Denver Post reports that the Thursday’s hearing has indeed been marred by technical errors, and Grueskin had requested an in-person hearing to be scheduled for August. A judge however, declined to block the subpoena on Wednesday.
The National Republican Senate Committee seized on Hickenlooper’s scandal as national Republicans gear up for a competitive battle to keep incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner in the upper chamber this fall.
“John Hickenlooper has tried everything to avoid testifying today, including having the DSCC bring in their go-to legal henchman Marc Elias to back up the $525-an-hour lawyer taxpayers have been paying for out of a post-9/11 economic recovery fund,” NRSC spokesperson Joanna Rodriquez said in a Thursday statement. “He’s all out of the tricks, and now it’s time for answers.”
Hickenlooper still needs to get past one final hurdle before facing Gardner this fall however with a primary runoff against former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff on June 30. Hickenlooper ran briefly for the Democratic presidential nomination before dropping out late last summer to run for the U.S. Senate.