Nobody in the city of Colorado Springs made it on Colorado Ethics Watch’s 5th annual report on the top ethical scandals of 2012.
The report focuses on “the five most public and egregious lapses in judgment and ethics by public and elected officials,” according to Ethics Watch, a Denver-based legal watchdog group.
“The report highlights the lack of structure of Colorado’s government to prevent and respond to corruption, and the need for ethics enforcement to match the laws that are currently in place to keep state government clean,” the group said in a news release.
Colorado Springs was on the list of ethical failures last year because of its embarrassing confusion about campaign finance laws.
“The five scandals detailed in this year’s Ethics Roundup are the clearest examples of where our enforcement system is working, and where it is lacking,” Director Luis Toro said in a statement.
“When a city council is its own ethics panel, or where a public official who has been convicted of crime related to his office and awaits trial for more such crimes is still in office, we know we have a problem. The sooner local governments and our state legislature recognize the shortcomings in our enforcement systems, the sooner we’ll have government that we can all trust,” he said.
In a telephone interview, Toro said Ethics Watch is “keeping an eye” on a recently filed request for an ethics investigation of City Councilman Tim Leigh.
“At this point, we just don’t know enough to say this is really a big deal,” he said. “It may turn out that next year this blows up. I know there’s so much money involved with the Drake power plant that if it’s big, it’s going to be really big.”
Toro said his organization is also keeping a close eye on “all these issues” with Mayor Steve Bach around open-records requests.
“That’s been kind of a hot and cold thing. It sounds like there hasn’t been as much problem lately,” he said. “We were certainly aware that there’s been a lot of questions about his transparency.”
Among those listed in the group’s Top 5 ethical scandals of 2012 is Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who is the subject of a criminal investigation that grew out of a complaint from Ethics Watch.
Gessler’s communications director, Rich Coolidge, called Ethics Watch is a liberal group that targets only Republicans.
“They’re trying to get Gessler attached to corruption,” he said. “They’re writing this to fudge it and make it look sensationalized.”