IEC Reforms Complaint Process
Yesterday, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission ("IEC") passed rule changes to its procedural rules that integrate the IEC's investigation into the complaint process. Ethics Watch and others advocated making the investigation the centerpiece of the complaint process because the Colorado Constitution requires the IEC to "conduct an investigation, hold a public hearing, and render findings on each non-frivolous complaint."
Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro issued the following statement: "We are pleased that the IEC has changed its rules so that a Commission investigation will occur in every non-frivolous case and the report from that investigation will be released before the hearing. While the rules do not eliminate all of the unnecessary burdens placed on complaining parties, they should result in a fairer and more efficient process."
Ethics Watch first called on the IEC to honor its constitutional obligation to investigate non-frivolous complaints in 2009, after the IEC ruled on Ethics Watch's complaint against former Secretary of State Mike Coffman without conducting its own investigation and without permitting Ethics Watch to conduct discovery. Since that time, the IEC has conducted its own investigations of complaints, but the rules did not integrate the investigation into the pre-hearing process. The rule change passed yesterday retains some aspects of the old adversarial model, but also provides that a final investigation report will be made available to the parties ten business days before a hearing. The IEC's expectation is that this will narrow the issues to be resolved at a hearing and thus streamline the process.