Dubai trip elicits an ethics complaint

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Dubai trip elicits an ethics complaint

FLC president defends travel practices
Fort Lewis College President Dene Thomas, right, with FLC Executive Director of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment Richard Miller tour the American University of Sharjah during a February trip to the United Arab Emirates. Thomas’ trip has been questioned in a complaint filed with the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission.
Where does an ethics complaint go?

The Colorado Ethics Commission was formed in 2008, two years after voters approved Amendment 41, which prohibited elected officials and government employees from accepting gifts.
All complaints regarding potential violations of the gift ban are heard first in executive session, where commissioners decide whether the complaint is within their jurisdiction.
If the case is deemed valid, the commission will request a response from the subject of the complaint, conduct an investigation and hold a hearing, said Jane Feldman, the commission’s executive director. If the government employee is found guilty, the commission can impose a fine equal to double the amount the gift was worth.
The commission receives about 15 complaints each year, two or three of which move forward into an investigation and a hearing, Feldman said. The commission has not heard a complaint submitted about Fort Lewis College President Dene Kay Thomas’ Dubai dinner and does not plan to hear any new complaints in its upcoming meeting June 7.
Feldman said the commission has been swamped with work investigating an ethics complaint about Secretary of State Scott Gessler. The complaint alleges Gessler used public money for partisan purposes when he used funds from his office’s discretionary budget to travel to Florida to attend a Republican lawyers conference and the Republican National Convention.
Since it began, the ethics commission has been severely understaffed compared with other states, and the lack of resources has hampered its work, Feldman said.
Of 41 states with ethics commissions, Colorado’s is the only one with a one-person staff, Feldman said.
ecowan@durangoherald.com

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Dubai trip elicits an ethics complaint

Fort Lewis College President Dene Thomas, right, with FLC Executive Director of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment Richard Miller tour the American University of Sharjah during a February trip to the United Arab Emirates. Thomas’ trip has been questioned in a complaint filed with the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission.
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