Perhaps marking the end of a golden era of ethics watchdogging in Colorado, Colorado Ethics Watch will close at the end of the year due to fundraising difficulties.
With unmatched in-house expertise in Colorado, the nonprofit advocacy group kept tabs on Colorado’s ethics rules and statutes as they intersected with public officials in a wide variety of ways.
In its absence, Colorado is left with a much thinner set of entities that focus on ethics, though under state law, individuals can bring ethics complaints themselves, as Campaign Integrity Watch’s Matt Arnold has shown repeatedly.
Colorado Politics reporter Marianne Goodland reported today:
The shutdown is a financial matter, said Colorado Ethics Watch Executive Director Luis Toro. “It’s harder for us to justify our existence now that citizens can file their own complaints,” he told Colorado Politics. He also cited the national political atmosphere over ethics, stating the attention being paid to President Trump and his ethics issues leaves little room for ethics concerns at the state level.
Attorney Chantell Taylor started Ethics Watch in August 2006, just three months before Colorado voters adopted Amendment 41, the constitutional amendment that dictates ethics rules for elected officials. In 2008, Toro joined Ethics Watch; he became its executive director in 2010.
At the time Ethics Watch was started, Toro said, “if we didn’t file the [campaign finance] complaint, no one would.” That’s a model that Toro said has worked well until the last few years, when citizens started filing their own complaints, both on campaign finance and on ethics.