Democrat Senate Candidate Received Millions In Corporate Donations While Colorado Governor To Fund Programs With No Oversight

For at least 20 years, Colorado governors have been accepting millions of dollars in corporate and private foundation donations to be used to fund positions and programs without oversight.
CBS4 discovered the donations and that former Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat now running for U.S. Senate, accepted the most money from corporations by far.
“Hickenlooper admits he took the public-private model to a new level, funding programs and even positions in his administration with no oversight,” the outlet reported. “Among the biggest donors was the former Anadarko Oil and Gas. The company donated $25,000 to the governor’s office in 2017, just days after a deadly explosion in Firestone was tied to a leaking underground pipeline owned by the company. Over the course of four years, it gave the governor’s office more than $330,000, money for which there is little accounting.”
For his part, Hickenlooper told the outlet that his administration “tried to be as transparent as we could be, we issued press releases.”
“He said the donations were for a variety of initiatives and provided flyers for some of them, showing Anadarko as one of many sponsors for Pedal the Plains and One Book Colorado, but there’s no way of verifying any of it,” the outlet reported of Hickenlooper.
CBS4 reported there was little public accounting for any of the corporate donations except for a website called the Transparency Online Project, but it took a “time-consuming, multi-step search” to find the Anadarko donation.
More from CBS4:
Hickenlooper said he doesn’t remember soliciting any of the money himself, “I would sometimes speak to the chamber of commerce or I would speak to the Colorado Association of Nonprofits.”
When asked if he approached certain organizations or private companies directly, Hickenlooper responded, “I can’t think of anything offhand.”
He said the donations were handled by the governor’s Community Partnerships Program and he provided annual reports that detail various public-private partnerships. In most cases, the private donors aren’t listed and CBS4 could find no public database for how individual donations were spent. According to former staff, there was also no written policy to avoid conflicts of interest and no formal vetting process. Safeway gave $10,000 the year the governor signed a law allowing full strength alcohol in grocery stores. The company says it was for One Book, One Colorado.
CBS4 noted it “found no evidence of a quid pro quo,” yet the director of the Brechner Center for the Freedom of Information, Frank Lamonte, said the potential was there.
“Even if it’s well-intentioned and there is no influence buying going on, it just raises all sorts of red flags that it could influence the direction of policy and it could influence what legislation is prioritized, it could give, at least if not influence, it could give preferred access to the governor,” Lamonte told the outlet.
The discovery of the corporate donations with little accountability comes on the heels of Hickenlooper being found in violation an ethics ban on accepting personal gifts while in office. The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission determined that Hickenlooper violated the ban when he accepted a flight on a campaign donor’s jet and using a Maserati limousine while attending a conference in Italy, The Daily Wire previously reported.
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