Colorado Ethics Watch: Nonpartisan Watchdog or Progressive Hit Team?

A few days ago, one of my friends posted a question in the #copolitics hashtag on Twitter about an outfit called Colorado Ethics Watch (@COEthicsWatch). This group holds itself out as nonpartisan, and my friend tweeted the Executive Director to ask a question about whether the group has ever filed any complaints against Democratic elected officials, the Democratic Party or affiliated groups. Various lefties jumped in the conversation and managed to obscure the fact that the Executive Director, a gentleman named Luis Toro (@_luistoro) never answered the question.

This piqued my curiosity, and after a perfunctory review of Colorado Ethics Watch’s website I did a little research and prepared this meme which I posted on Twitter the next day.COEthics Graphic

Poking the Bear

I’m not a newbie to Twitter debates and I was shocked at the number and virulence of angry tweets I received from various #copolitics lefties. ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin (@alanfranklin) chimed in with an innuendo that perhaps Republicans might simply have more ethics violations than Democrats. After a lively debate with Mr. Franklin – who usually ignores me – I was convinced that there was more here than met the eye.  I decided to dig deeper.

According to their website, Colorado Ethics Watch is “…a state-based project of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life.”

CREW

What is Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington? Quite simply, it is a left-wing advocacy group. As a nonprofit 501©(3) they are not required by law to disclose their donors and are prohibited from lobbying or supporting  political candidates.

CREW was founded in 2003 by Melanie Sloan, a Washington, D.C. attorney who worked for prominent Democrats including Senators Joseph Biden and Schumer and Representative John Conyers. Ms. Sloan was the Executive Director (at an annual salary of $230,000, putting her in the top 2% of American earners) of the group until she stepped down recently to become Of Counsel. The current ED is Noah Bookbinder, a criminal justice attorney who specializes in public corruption and was an advisor to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on criminal justice issues.

CREW Research Director Matt Corley has impeccable progressive credentials as a former editor for the Center for American Progress and as a writer for ThinkProgress and The Progress Report. Other listed staff resumes include individuals who spent time working for various Democratic governors and senate candidates.

According to Wikipedia, key figures associated with CREW include David Brock, a hard-core leftist who founded Media Matters for America, an internet-based progressive organization; Anne Weismann, a former Justice Department lawyer; and Naomi Seligman, a well-known progressive political activist who has led advocacy campaigns against the NRA and is currently the leader of The Gun Truth Project, a progressive anti-Second Amendment “watchdog” organization.

Based on the above and a perusal of their most recent legal filings, it is clear that CREW is run by a group of people intent on promoting the progressive agenda by targeting conservative and Republican politicians, groups and causes for ethics complaints. In fact, according to the website crewexposed.com,

By every measure CREW has attacked a significantly disproportionate number of Republicans and conservative organizations. CREW’s tactics against the right have also been harsher, with the group waging legal battles against Republicans while issuing press releases against Democrats”, and “CREW is funded by a Who’s Who of left-wing donors. Many of CREW’s biggest funders are left-leaning organizations, including the Open Society Institute, the Tides Foundation, and Democracy Alliance.”

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. From any reasonable standpoint, it is undeniable that CREW is anything but a nonpartisan watchdog group and is in fact a powerful weapon in the progressive arsenal.

Baby CREW

In 2006, perhaps realizing that Colorado was becoming THE bellwether state (or perhaps at the instigation of the “Gang of Four”), CREW “…launched a state-based project called Colorado Ethics Watch (CEW).”

CEW is led by Luis Toro, a former litigation partner at a downtown Denver law firm. His experience includes clerking for Judge Lucero of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals (nominated by President Bill Clinton) and interning at the left-leaning National Resources Defense Council. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

The Research Director is a gentleman named Doug Staggs, formerly an employee of the Gill Foundation. As any Coloradan should know, the Gill Foundation is the political arm of Tim Gill, one of the Gang of Four, a key player in the Colorado progressive movement and kingpin of Colorado politics.

After reading the bios of the four individuals listed, I was ready to conclude that CEW was just a Colorado extension of the progressive CREW. However, in the spirit of fair inquiry, I reviewed all of the listings of their Legal Filings on their website and prepared a summary of them.

Table 1 below lists CEWs Legal Filings relating to Open Records matters. In compiling this table, I clicked on each link, listed the title and date, read the summary to determine the target of the request or complaint, and used my judgment to determine the partisan bias, if any, of the complaint.

Of twenty-eight Open Records releases, five appeared to be neutral (without any obvious partisan bias) and two related to other issues. The remaining twenty-one were complaints against Republican officeholders, candidates and conservative issues. Not a single one was against a Democrat or left-leaning cause or organization. Not one.

Table 2 below presents CEWs listing of lawsuits that they have filed over the past nine years. Several of the items listed were multiple filings in separate cases; for example, CEW appears to have waged a long-standing war against the incumbent of the Colorado Secretary of State office: first against Republican Mike Coffman and then against Republican Scott Gessler. I counted each listing as a separate instance.

Of the one hundred and one items listed, one appeared to be a legitimate complaint and twenty-six appeared to be neutral. The remaining seventy-four were all – again without exception – against Republican candidates, officeholders and groups. Targets include Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, Colorado Campaign for Life, Citizens United, the Colorado Republican Party, City of Colorado Springs, Clear the Bench Colorado, Senate Majority Fund, LLC and Colorado Leadership Fund, among others. CEW even went after the Denver District Attorney for not prosecuting a Republican officeholder they evidently thought should have been persecuted prosecuted.

A review of the listing of “Requests for Investigation” reveals the same – all targets appear to be conservative and Republican individuals and groups.

Given the absence of even ONE complaint or filing against a Democrat or anyone left of Ronald Reagan, I think it’s safe to say that Colorado Ethics Watch, like its parent, is anything BUT nonpartisan.

Following Table 2 below is an open letter to Mr. Toro asking for the answers to several questions that I have about CEW. If he ever provides a response, I will publish it in a follow up post.

But Wait, There’s More!

Like an onion, many political issues have layers within layers, and sometimes they make you want to cry. This is no exception.

This whole thing started with a tweet from another conservative user on Twitter calling out CEW and Luis Toro for filing a complaint against the American Lands Council (ALC), headed by Utah Republican Ken Ivory (R-West Jordan). In the complaint, CEW alleges that ALC violated Colorado law by lobbying for legislation without first registering as a lobbyist.

The larger picture, of course, is that the American Lands Council is involved in the battle over transferring control of federal lands to the states.

ALC has also been the target of complaints by the so-called Campaign for Accountability (CfA), yet another 501(c)(3) organization devoted to “…expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life”. Launched just last month on May 13, 2015, the Executive Director of this organization is none other than Anne Weismann, who is a key figure in CREW. Other board members have ties to CREW, the Victory Fund, Gill Action Fund and President Obama’s re-election campaign. Obviously, this is another Democratic Party/progressive hit team.

According to a story in The Idaho Reporter, “Instead of serving the public as an authentic nonprofit watchdog outfit, CfA serves as a partisan attack dog, attached by a leash held by environmental extremists, unions and other left-wing causes.”  Their public relations firm works with other left-wing groups including unions, environmental extremists 350.org and the well-known Everytown for Gun Safety.

The CfA’s very first lawsuit was one demanding that the Securities and Exchange Commission issue a rule requiring corporations to disclose their political donations. Hypocritically, while demanding transparency and accountability from everyone else, these hyper-partisan left wing attack dogs keep their own funding sources a secret, so there is no way to know who funds CREW, CfA and our own home-grown CEW. According to one website, George Soros provides financing to CREW. I suspect that a look at these organizations’ donor lists would reveal many familiar names, some of whom I have listed in the open letter mentioned earlier.

Follow the Links

I think that any reasonable person, in looking at this information, would conclude that these organizations – CREW, CfA and CEW – are all highly partisan teams of operatives whose sole purpose is to advance the progressive agenda through the vehicle of the Democratic Party with a strategy of attacking the opposition – Republicans, conservatives and libertarians – by any means possible and especially including legal harassment.

The links between CREW, CfA, CEW and Colorado political player Tim Gill are inferred from public disclosures on their various websites. The hidden links between these groups and individuals are undoubtedly more vast and devious possibly including the rest of the Gang of Four, the President and national Democratic Party, the various environmental, union and other groups who are all instrumental in implementing the progressive agenda through any means possible; open or secret, fair or foul.

The fact that these groups are working together and coordinating their efforts to fight against Western states reasserting control over lands held by the federal government is both highly illuminating and deeply troubling. For every accusation from a lefty about the Koch brothers and ALEC, we can point to this very real network that is working to buttress federal control over Western land.

I have no doubt that Mr. Alan Franklin knows much more about all this than I do. I also have no doubt that he will never tell me any of it, and in fact will deny that any such hidden links or partisan biases exist.

In the meantime, I think that if Coloradans are looking for an impartial, objective, honest, nonpartisan “watchdog” overseeing our political life, they need to keep looking. Colorado Ethics Watch is certainly not it.

By Richard D. Turnquist

June 9, 2015

 

Table 1 – Listing of Colorado Ethics Watch Legal Filings – Open Records

Title Target Partisan Bias Date
CORA Reform Passes First Hurdle Colorado state government Neutral February 14, 2014
State Billed More Than $122,000 for Failed Ethics Defense Office of the Secretary of State Against Republican July 25, 2013
Ethics Watch Joins Coalition… Colorado state government Neutral March 4, 2013
CORA Response Shows Gessler Threatened Suit Against Ethics Commission Office of the Secretary of State Against Republican January 29, 2013
Ethics Watch Requests “Colorado Documents” From Montana Dark Money Investigation American Tradition Partnership Against Conservative 501©4, also a climate change angle involved November 5, 2012
Record Response Reveals Colorado Investigation of GOP Voter Registration Firm Strategic Allied Consulting/Nathan Sproul Against Republican October 4, 2012
Ethics Watch Publishes SOS Response to CORA on Legislative Issues Office of the Secretary of State Against Republican April 25, 2012
Ethics Watch Releases Results of CORA Request On Mesa Clerk Requests Office of the Secretary of State Against Republican June 20, 2011
Ethics Watch Seeks Disclosure of Stapleton, Gessler Employment Offices of the Secretary of State and Attorney General Against Republicans January 27, 2011
Health Care Litigation: What Will It Cost Colorado Attorney General Against Republican, in support of ACA April 13, 2010
Ethics Watch Seeks Records Regarding Possible Government Contribution To Penry Colorado Senate Minority Office Fishing expedition against Republican gubernatorial candidate October 8, 2009
Ethics Watch Calls for Answers and CDPHE Swiftly Complies Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Neutral September 17, 2009
After Ethics Watch CORA Victory, IEC Will Release Complaint Documents Independent Ethics Commission Neutral May 20, 2009
Ethics Watch Obtains Documents on El Paso County Election Readiness El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Against Republican October 16, 2008
Ethics Watch Seeks Records On El Paso County Election Readiness El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Against Republican October 7, 2008
Ethics Watch Files CORA Suite Against Penry, McNulty and Gardner State Senator and State Representatives Against Republicans September 9, 2008
State Elections Director Resigns Amid Ethics Watch Investigation State Elections Director Holly Lowder Reported to Mike Coffman, so against Republicans September 5, 2008
Ethics Watch Moves For Summary Judgment In Senate Majority Fund Case Senate Majority Fund, LLC Against Republicans September 5, 2008
Coffman Attacked Ethics Watch To Distract Attention From Wrongdoing Office of the Secretary of State Against Republican August 21, 2008
Ethics Watch Files CORA Regarding Leadville Tunnel Secret Meetings State Senator Tom Wiens/Board of County Commissioners of Lake County Against Republicans February 28, 2008
Ethics Watch Investigates Errors In Severance Tax Collection Colorado Department of Revenue Regarding Coal Severance Taxes August 15, 2007
Ethics Watch Requests Criminal Investigation of Coffman Secretary of State Against Republican Mike Coffman June 15, 2007
CCEG Joins Call to Rescind Ault Prison Contract GEO Group Against privatized prisons March 5, 2007
CCEG Files Open Records Requests On Homeland Security Spending DOLA/DEM/CDPS Neutral November 13, 2006
CCEG Files FOIA to Determine Whether Beauprez Used Congressional Office For Campaign Gubernatorial Candidate Bob Beauprez Against Republican October 27, 2006
CCEG Files CORA Request to Determine Legitimacy of Beauprez Investigation Office of Governor Bill Owens ( R ) Against Republican October 19, 2006
Response to CCEG CORA Suggests Lack of Full Disclosure Office of Governor Bill Owens ( R ) Against Republican August 14, 2006
CCEG Sends CORA request to Governor Owens Office of Governor Bill Owens ( R ) Against Republican August 4, 2006

Table 2 – Colorado Ethics Watch Legal Filings – Lawsuits

Title Target Partisan Bias Date
Ethics Watch Files Challenge to Rowland Decision; IEC Files Preemptive Suit For Secrecy IEC/Elbert County Commissioner Robert Rowland Uncertain, and actually looks like a legitimate complaint May 27, 2015
Court of Appeals Affirms Ethics Commission Ruling Against Gessler Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican May 7, 2015
RMGO Complies With Court Order In Case Filed By Ethics Watch Rocky Mountain Gun Owners/Colorado Campaign for Life Against Second Amendment Advocacy Group/Pro-Life Group May 4, 2015
Ethics Watch Files Complaint Against Citizens United Citizens United Conservative Advocacy Group April 27, 2015
Ethics Watch Files Brief In Republican Super-PAC Case Colorado Republican Party Against Republican March 9, 2015
Ethics Watch, Colorado Common Cause File Amicus Brief Supporting Disclosure of Ballot Issue Spending Coalition for Secular Government v Williams Neutral March 2, 2015
Administrative Judge Orders CCL, RMGO to Disclose Electioneering Money Rocky Mountain Gun Owners/Colorado Campaign for Life Against Second Amendment Advocacy Group/Pro-Life Group December 29, 2014
Federal judge won’t block hearing against RMGO and CO Campaign for Life Rocky Mountain Gun Owners/Colorado Campaign for Life Against Second Amendment Advocacy Group/Pro-Life Group December 16, 2014
Colorado Supreme Court Lets Stand Ethics Watch Win On Money In Politics Disclosure Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican December 8, 2014
Ethics Watch Signs Amicus Brief On Pre-Emptive CORA Lawsuits Chafee County Clerk and Recorder Neutral December 4, 2014
Suppes Pays Up For Use Of Public Facility As Campaign Office Orchard City Mayor Don Suppes Against Republican November 14, 2014
Ethics Watch Files Amicus Brief In Gessler’s Latest Appeal Of Ethics Fine Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican October 27, 2014
RMGO, Colorado Campaign for Life Sue To Block Electioneering Disclosure Rocky Mountain Gun Owners/Colorado Campaign for Life Against Second Amendment Advocacy Group/Pro-Life Group October 21, 2014
Ethics Watch Appeals Ruling On Party-Controlled Super-PACs Colorado Republican Party Against Republican October 7, 2014
Ethics Watch and Coalition Oppose Citizens United At Tenth Circuit Citizens United Conservative Advocacy Group October 3, 2014
Judge OK’s “independent” expenditure committee for Colorado GOP Colorado Republican Party Against Republican October 1, 2014
Ethics Watch Files Complaing Against Colorado Campaign for Life and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Rocky Mountain Gun Owners/Colorado Campaign for Life Against Second Amendment Advocacy Group/Pro-Life Group September 9, 2014
Ethics Watch Joins Secretary of State to Defend Lawsuit by Republican Party Colorado Republican Party Against Republican June 17, 2014
Colorado Supreme Court Affirms Colorado Ballot Issue Disclosure Law Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican June 16, 2014
Ethics Watch Files Amicus Brief in Gessler Challenge to IEC Ruling Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican December 17, 2013
Court of Appeals Strikes Down Gessler’s Campaign Finance Rules Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican December 12, 2013
No on Prop AA Campaign Discloses In-Kind Contributions, Complaint To Be Dismissed No Over Taxation Neutral October 16, 2013
Issue Committee Opposing Marijuana Tax Measure Hides Donors, Expenditures No Over Taxation Neutral October 8, 2013
Ethics Watch Tells Appellate Court How Gessler Illegally Weakened Campaign Finance Disclosure Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican September 4, 2013
Gessler Repays State For Florida Trip Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican May 23, 2013
Ethics Watch Joins Coalition To File Supreme Court Brief In Key CORA Case Open Records Litigation Neutral March 4, 2013
Ethics Watch Response to Gessler’s Lawsuit Against Ethics Commission Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican January 31, 2013
In Response to Complaint, Cheyenne Mountain Republican Forum PAC Comes Clean About Its Funding Cheyenne Mountain Republican Forum Political Committee Against Republican October 16, 2012
Ethics Watch Files Complaint Against Cheyenne Mountain Republican Forum Cheyenne Mountain Republican Forum Political Committee Against Republican September 28, 2012
Appeal [sic] Court Affirms Colorado Ballot Issue Disclosure Law Colorado Secretary of State Against ruling made by Republican Secretary of State August 30, 2012
Denver District Court Strikes Down Gessler Rule Changes Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican August 11, 2012
Ethics Watch and Common Cause file complaint against SOS rule rewrite Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican April 6, 2012
Court of Appeals Affirms Ruling Against Colorado Springs City of Colorado Springs/Douglas Bruce/Reform Team PAC Against Republican controlled City and Republican groups May 29, 2012
Court of Appeals Affirms Ethics Watch Win in Clear The Bench Case Clear The Bench Colorado Against Conservative Advocacy Group March 15, 2012
Colorado Supreme Court Affirms “Magic Words” Requirement Senate Majority Fund/Colorado Leadership Fund Against Republican/Conservative February 21, 2012
Ethics Watch Applauds Bipartisan Primary Disclosure Fix Campaign Finance Reporting Neutral January 30, 2012
Ethics Watch Dismisses Suit Over Primary Reports After SOS Withdraws Rule Campaign Finance Reporting Neutral January 3, 2012
Judge Voids Issue Committee Rule Campaign Finance Limits Against Republican SOS November 17, 2011
Ethics Watch Files Opening Brief in Primary Reporting Suit Campaign Finance Reporting Against Republican SOS November 4, 2011
Colorado Supreme Court Hears Ethics Watch v. Senate Majority Fund Senate Majority Fund/Colorado Leadership Fund Against Republican/Conservative October 27, 2011
ALJ Fines Larimer GOP $1500 on Ethics Watch Complaint Larimer County Republican Party Against Republican October 26, 2011
Ethics Watch Files Opposition to Colorado Springs Appeal City of Colorado Springs Against Republican controlled City October 6, 2011
Common Cause and Ethics Watch Challenge Weakening Of Issue Committee Disclosure Campaign Finance Reporting Against Republican SOS September 29, 2011
Ethics Watch Files Amicus Brief in Saguache HAVA Case Saguache County/Secretary of State Against Republican SOS September 21, 2011
Court Allows Issue Committee Rule Challenge to Proceed Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican September 8, 2011
Ethics Watch Files Suit to Defend Biweekly Primary Reporting Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican July 29, 2011
Common Cause and Ethics Watch File Complaint Against Secretary of State Gessler Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican June 10, 2011
Ethics Watch Calls on Colorado Springs to Drop Bruce Appeal City of Colorado Springs/Douglas Bruce/Reform Team PAC Against Republican controlled City and Republican groups May 9, 2011
Ethics Watch: Gessler Amicus for Clear the Bench “Improper” Clear The Bench Colorado/Secretary of State Against Republican SOS and conservative advocacy group May 2, 2011
Ethics Watch to Oppose SOS Intervention In Clear The Bench Appeal Clear The Bench Colorado/Secretary of State Against Republican SOS and conservative advocacy group April 19, 2011
Prop 102 Committee Fined $12,200 In Case Filed By Ethics Watch Safe Streets Colorado Neutral January 5, 2011
Judge Hears Case On Proposition 102 Disclosure Safe Streets Colorado Neutral December 10, 2010
Colorado Supreme Court To Review Ethics Watch Case Against SMC and CMF Senate Majority Fund/Colorado Leadership Fund Against Republican/Conservative November 30, 2010
Election Director: Clear the Bench Delinquent Clear the Bench Colorado Against Conservative Advocacy Group October 14, 2010
Ethics Watch Files Campaign Finance Complaint Against Safe Strees Colorado Safe Streets Colorado Neutral October 5, 2010
Colorado Ethics Watch Wins Case Against Clear The Bench Colorado Clear the Bench Colorado Against Conservative Advocacy Group September 24, 2010
Ethics Watch’s Fight Against Big Money In Judicial Elections Goes To Court Clear the Bench Colorado Against Conservative Advocacy Group September 15, 2010
New Hearing Date Set In Clear The Bench Case Clear the Bench Colorado Against Conservative Advocacy Group August 12, 2010
Ethics Watch Files Supplemental Complaint Against Clear the Bench Clear the Bench Colorado Against Conservative Advocacy Group August 2, 2010
Ethics Watch To Supplement Clear the Bench Complaint Clear the Bench Colorado Against Conservative Advocacy Group July 21, 2010
Fort Collins To Investigate Possible Campaign Finance Violation (Updated) Unknown group Neutral June 21, 2010
Ethics Watch Files Campaign Finance Complaint Against Clear The Bench Clear the Bench Colorado Against Conservative Advocacy Group May 5, 2010
Ethics Watch Seeks Supreme Court Review Of Campaign Finance Decision Senate Majority Fund/Colorado Leadership Fund Against Republican/Conservative April 29, 2010
Ethics Watch to Seek Colorado Supreme Court Review Senate Majority Fund/Colorado Leadership Fund Against Republican/Conservative March 18, 2010
Brief In Ethics Watch Appeal Provide First Look At Effect Of Citizens United Senate Majority Fund/Colorado Leadership Fund Against Republican/Conservative February 11, 2010
In Victory for Ethics Watch, Court Rules IEC Violated Open Meetings Act Independent Ethics Commission Neutral December 30, 2009
Indpendent Ethics Commission Must Pay Colorado Ethics Watch Attorneys Fees Independent Ethics Commission Neutral December 29, 2009
Court Affirms IEC Position That Advisory Opinions Have No Binding Effect Independent Ethics Commission Neutral November 10, 2009
Ethics Watch Completes Briefind In Appeal Of 527 Political Ad Case Senate Majority Fund/Colorado Leadership Fund Against Republican/Conservative September 10, 2009
E W Files Complaint Against Proponent Of Aurora Impound Initiative Aurora Impound Initiative Neutral August 27, 2009
Ethics Watch Files Complaint Against Lakewood Safe Streets Committee Lakewood Safe Streets Committee Neutral August 26, 2009
Ethics Watch Files Opening Brief In Appeal Of Campaign Finance Decision Senate Majority Fund/Colorado Leadership Fund Against Republican/Conservative June 2, 2009
Victory for Ethics Watch in Open Records Suit Against IEC Independent Ethics Commission Neutral May 14, 2009
Trial In Independent Ethics Commission Open Records Lawsuit Independent Ethics Commission Neutral May 11, 2009
Colorado League of Taxpayers Filed $7150 For Campaign Finance Violation Colorado League of Taxpayers Against Republican Advocacy Group April 29, 2009
Ethics Watch, Coffman File Closing Briefs with IEC Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican March 17, 2009
Ethics Watch Files Complaint Against Colorado League of Taxpayers Colorado League of Taxpayers Against Republican Advocacy Group February 20, 2009
Ethics Watch Appeals Campaign Finance Administrative Decision Senate Majority Fund/Colorado Leadership Fund Against Republican/Conservative December 29, 2008
Court of Appeals Hears Arguments In Broomfield Case City and County of Broomfield Neutral December 9, 2008
Ethics Watch Suit Results In A Win For Legislative Transparency State Senator, two state representatives All Republican officeholders November 7, 2008
IEC Sets Hearing In Coffman Ethics Probe Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican October 13, 2008
Senate Majority Fund Fined In Case Filed By Ethics Watch Senate Majority Fund LLC Republican Advocacy Group October 9, 2008
Ethics Watch Responds to IEC’s Court Application for Secrecy Independent Ethics Commission Neutral October 8, 2008
Colorado Ethics Watch Sues Senate Majority Fund LLC and Colorado Leadership Fund LLC Senate Majority Fund/Colorado Leadership Fund Against Republican/Conservative September 10, 2008
Ethics Watch Files CORA Suite Against Penry, McNulty and Gardner State Senator, two state representatives All Republican officeholders September 9, 2008
Ethics Watch Questions Black Hawk Spending Ordinance City of Black Hawk Neutral July 16, 2008
Ethics Watch Files Arguments In Morrissey Case Denver DA Mitch Morissey Complaint brought against DA for choosing not to prosecute a Republican officeholder July 11, 2008
Denver District Court Orders Further Briefing In Morrissey Case Denver DA Mitch Morissey Complaint brought against DA for choosing not to prosecute a Republican officeholder June 27, 2008
Statement on DA Morrissey’s Response to Ethics Watch’s Petition Denver DA Mitch Morissey Complaint brought against DA for choosing not to prosecute a Republican officeholder June 24, 2008
Ethics Watch Calls for Investigation of Black Hawk Mayor David Spellman Black Hawk Mayor Neutral June 12, 2008
Denver District Court Orders DA Morrissey to Respond to Petition Denver DA Mitch Morissey Complaint brought against DA for choosing not to prosecute a Republican officeholder June 10, 2008
Ethics Watch Files Brief In Broomfield Appeal City and County of Broomfield Neutral June 2, 2008
Ethics Watch Files Petition to Bring Denver District Attorney to Court Denver DA Mitch Morissey Complaint brought against DA for choosing not to prosecute a Republican officeholder June 2, 2008
Appeals Court Hands Ethics Watch Major Victory Committee for the American Dream Against Conservative Advocacy Group May 29, 2008
Ethics Watch Finds That SOS Mike Coffman is Using Taxpayer Time to Fundraise Colorado Secretary of State Against Republican Officeholder April 3, 2008
Ethics Watch Challenges Broomfield Campaign Finance Decision City and County of Broomfield Neutral February 6, 2008
Ethics Watch Files Campaign Finance Complaint Against Lakewood Council City Council President Neutral October 30, 2007
Ethics Watch Files Campaign Finance Complaint Against Broomfield Officials City staff and elected officials Neutral October 23, 2007
Ethics Watch Wins Case Against Committee for the American Dream Committee for the American Dream Against Conservative Advocacy Group April 24, 2007
CCEG Sues Political Groups for Violating Campaign Finance Laws Northern Colorado Victory Fund/Committee for the American Dream Against Republican Advocacy Group February 22, 2007
CCEG Files Complaint Against Colorado Leadership Fund Colorado Leadership Fund Against Conservative Advocacy Group September 27, 2006

Open Letter to Mr. Luis Toro

Executive Director, Colorado Ethics Watch

Dear Mr. Toro:

In recent days I have become interested in learning more about Colorado Ethics Watch (CEW). While I certainly support and appreciate ethics, lawfulness, transparency and open government, I don’t believe that your group actually promotes these values in an evenhanded, nonpartisan manner. My research and review of CEW’s website indicates that Colorado Ethics Watch appears to be an organization bent on harassing, prosecuting and persecuting conservative and Republican individuals and groups.

Accordingly, I have several questions I would like to ask of you. Your answers will be published on my blog and your refusal or other failure to answer them will be published as well.

My questions are as follows:

  • Aside from the listings on your website, do you have a comprehensive listing of open records requests, lawsuits and other legal filings by case or document number, including the target of the complaint, the party or group the target is associated with or represents, and the outcome of the complaint or filing?
  • In cases where CEW’s complaint is dismissed or otherwise found invalid, who bears the cost of the target’s legal costs for defending against the complaint. What is the financial impact to the victims of these unfounded complaints?
  • How many complaints, lawsuits and legal filings has CEW initiated against Republican candidates, officeholders and associated groups over the last nine years?
  • How many complaints, lawsuits and legal filings has CEW initiated against Democratic candidates, officeholders and associated groups over the last nine years?
  • To what extent and of what nature does your organization take direction from the national Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and from the following individuals:
    • David Brock
    • Melanie Sloan
    • Naomi Seligman
    • Anne Weisman
    • Noah Bookbinder
  • Please disclose the names and amounts of the donors – individuals and organizations – that account for the top 75% of your annual revenues for the last five years.
  • Please disclose the amounts, if any, received from the following individuals and organizations at any time over the life of CEW:
    • Tim Gill, or any group or organization funded by or under the control of Mr. Gill
    • Pat Stryker, or any group or organization funded by or under the control of Ms. Stryker
    • Jared Polis, or any group or organization funded by or under the control of Mr. Polis
    • Rutt Bridges, or any group or organization funded by or under the control of Mr. Bridges
    • George Soros, or any group or organization funded by or under the control of Mr. Soros
    • Tom Steyer, or any group or organization funded by or under the control of Mr. Steyer
    • Bill and Melinda Gates, or any group or organization funded by or under the control of either one
    • Michael Bloomberg, or any group or organization funded by or under the control of Mr. Bloomberg
    • The organization known as ActBlue
    • Any public employees union
    • Any other private union including SEIU, Teamsters, AFL-CIO, etc.
  • CEW’s links with the Campaign for Accountability, whether they be persons, funding sources, service providers, or other.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Best Regards,

Richard D. Turnquist

 

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Comments 1

  1. Good investigative piece by Mr. Turnquist. It’s unfortunate this organization isn’t required to file an IRS 990 (or at least I couldn’t find one) which reveals a lot about it. It appears to be a leftist organization masquerading as a anti-corruption watchdog. I don’t have a problem with it rooting out Republican corruption (of which there is plenty). I’d suggest that conservatives create another one, that roots out Democrat corruption (of which there is probably a lot more).

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