Two Republican lawmakers have formally called for a legislative committee to investigate the use of federal funds to cover former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s legal fees in an ongoing ethics investigation.
Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, and Rep. Rod Bockenfeld, R-Watkins, said in a letter addressed to Colorado’s Legislative Audit Committee (LAC) that the use of the federal funds were “inappropriate, possibly illegal.”
The Denver Post reported Wednesday that $43,390 in taxpayer dollars has been paid to Denver lawyer Mark Grueskin, who was made a special assistant attorney general and appointed to handle the ethics case in October 2018 against the former governor. It’s not uncommon for outside counsel to be appointed for the defense of state officials.
The legal fees, however, were paid to Grueskin from funds received from the 2003 Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, the Post reported.
The ethics investigation, still pending by the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission, stems from complaints made about Hickenlooper’s travel expenses as governor.
The letter from Lundeen and Bockenfeld said the funds the state received from the 2003 law were meant “to provide essential government services or to cover the costs of certain unfunded federal mandates.”
Hickenlooper’s legal fees don’t qualify, the lawmakers said.
Lundeen and Bockenfeld added that they were troubled that Grueskin’s name was redacted from the government’s online transparency database that showed the payments, as the Post report.
Melissa Miller, a spokesperson for Hickenlooper, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Hickenlooper is running for U.S. Senate, challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Gory Garnder, following a failed presidential campaign.