John Hickenlooper refuses to comply with subpoena in ethics case

U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper refused to comply with a subpoena Thursday morning, so the Colorado Attorney General’s Office will enforce it.

Hickenlooper was scheduled to testify virtually before the state’s Independent Ethics Commission about his alleged violations of Colorado’s gift ban. He refused to appear because he believes the hearing would violate his due process rights.

“I believe our subpoena was very clear,” said Commissioner William Leone. And Hickenlooper, he said, was “currently in contempt of that subpoena.”

The commission voted 5-0 to have the Attorney General’s Office enforce the subpoena. After the vote, commission Chair Elizabeth Espinosa Krupa said, “The Attorney General’s Office says it has a team on its way to enforce the subpoena.”

The commission then moved ahead with a hearing about Hickenlooper’s flights on private jets as governor and the Attorney General’s Office crafted a motion at Denver District Court to enforce the subpoena and force Hickenlooper’s testimony.

“The judge will then determine whether or not to issue an order, and timing depends on the judge,” said Lawrence Pacheco, an Attorney General’s Office spokesman.

Hickenlooper stands accused of violating the Colorado Constitution’s ban on gifts when he accepted private jet flights from wealthy friends and businesses as governor. He has maintained his innocence and accused the Public Trust Institute, which filed the ethics complaint, of playing politics with Colorado ethics laws.

“John Hickenlooper has made clear he will testify in person. Today’s debacle of a hearing has made clear that WebEx doesn’t work for a legal proceeding like this,” said Melissa Miller, a spokeswoman for Hickenlooper, referring to the video conferencing program. “We will be opposing the motion to enforce the subpoena.”

Thursday’s hearing followed a weeks-long dispute between Hickenlooper’s attorneys and the Independent Ethics Commission in which Hickenlooper announced he would not testify, was subpoenaed by the IEC, fought that subpoena in court, then lost his court fight.

“Last night, a Denver District Court judge issued an order confirming John Hickenlooper is compelled to testify today and yet John Hickenlooper defied the legal orders and refused to appear at his own ethics trial,” said Frank McNulty, founder of the Public Trust Institute. “Do these seem like actions of an innocent man?”

Hickenlooper will face Andrew Romanoff in a Democratic primary June 30. The winner will take on Sen. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican, in early November.

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