Colorado Standards of Conduct in Government, Initiative 41 (2006)
The official ballot title read:
An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning standards of conduct by persons who are professionally involved with governmental activities, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting a public officer, member of the general assembly, local government official, or government employee from soliciting or accepting certain monetary or in-kind gifts; prohibiting a professional lobbyist from giving anything of value to a public officer, member of the general assembly, local government official, government employee, or such person's immediate family member; prohibiting a statewide elected officeholder or member of the general assembly from personally representing another person or entity for compensation before any other such officeholder or member for a period of two years following departure from office; establishing penalties for a breach of public trust or inducement of such a breach; creating a five-member independent ethics commission to hear ethics complaints, to assess penalties, and to issue advisory opinions on ethics issues; and specifying that the measure shall not apply to home rule jurisdictions that have adopted laws concerning matters covered by the measure.
Coloradans for Clean Government was the group supporting the amendment.
Supporters argued that the credibility and integrity of the political process is damaged when public officials accept gifts from lobbyists. Amendment 41 strengthens public confidence by reducing actual or perceived conflicts of interest that arise when public officials accept gifts such as tickets to sporting events, meals, and lodging.
Proponents also stated that Amendment 41 eliminates the temptation for elected officials to make decisions based on the potential of future employment.
Supporters argued that an independent forum was needed where citizens can file legitimate concerns about possible ethics violations by their elected representatives. The ethics commission created by Amendment 41 is charged with enforcing standards of conduct for state and local public officials and employees and provides a central venue for filing ethics complaints from across the state.
Groups opposing the amendment included Hospitality Issue Pac and NO on 41.
Oppoents said that Amendment 41 does not belong in Colorado's constitution and may have unintended and undesirable consequences. Elected officials can already be investigated for ethics violations, recalled, or removed from office when they run for reelection. They argued that current law already prohibited state elected officials from receiving money in connection with their public service, and many other gifts worth more than $50 must already be publicly disclosed.
Amendment 41 would make gifts, even between any family members of most public employees, potentially subject to a politically motivated investigation that would include subpoena powers. They warned that it would prohibit most government employees, including entry-level local and county government employees from accepting or receiving educational scholarships for themselves or their dependent children.
Opponents also argued that private companies should be allowed to hire the person they believe will best represent their interests, even if it is a former legislator.
Opponents further argued that the commission may not be able to objectively judge the ethics of government officials since its members are appointed by—and may actually include—government officials. They added that procedures already existed to address ethics complaints at every level of government in Colorado. Establishing a new commission adds unnecessary bureaucracy.
The measure appeared on the November 2006 ballot and was approved by voters, receiving 63% of the vote.
- Procedures for qualifying an initiative in Colorado
- Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado
- Campaign finance requirements for Colorado ballot measures
- Colorado 2006 ballot measures