Ethics complaint against Colorado GOP Sen. Bob Gardner tossed out

Colorado senators found no merit in an allegation that one of their own, Republican Bob Gardner of Colorado Springs, used his power to inappropriately influence a court case.

The special ethics committee of senators reviewing the complaint — three Democrats and two Republicans — were unanimous in voting to dismiss the case on Monday morning.

“We took a thorough look at the charges,” Denver Democrat Chris Hansen said. “Did Sen. Gardner do something that other people cannot do? I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is no.”

The allegations came from attorney Chris Forsyth, who runs the Colorado-based Judicial Integrity Project. He cited years-old remarks from Gardner concerning a call the senator made to the state court administrator to help a colleague who wanted a different judge assigned to her case. That call led to a reassignment, and Forsyth called foul.

Gardner all along has maintained he did nothing wrong, and that he benefitted neither financially nor professionally by helping this colleague. Instead, he has said, he was a responsive legislator in assisting a constituent.

The special Senate committee agreed.

“We have legislators that are lawyers or organizers farmers or ranchers,” said Sen. Faith Winter, a Westminster Democrat. “We are expected to work when we are not in session. I think all that Senator Gardner did was work, outside of session, in a responsible manner. If the citizens of Colorado want to have legislators that don’t have overlap with private careers, that’s a different decision.”

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