Talking Points on the IEC Final Position Statement Regarding Home Rule Jurisdictions

The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) issued the Final Position Statement 16-01 regarding Home Rule Counties and Municipalities.

The IEC opinion was a result of a request filed by the secretary of state concerning one of Aurora’s councilmembers. 

In its final position statement, the IEC has taken the position that the commission has jurisdiction over ethics complaints against the officers and employees of home rule municipalities, if the municipality does not have an ethics code that is equally as strict as Amendment 41, particularly in regard to the “gift ban” provisions of Amendment 41. 

CML respectfully disagrees with the conclusions drawn by the IEC concerning the ethics requirements for home rule entities:

 

  • Municipal codes regulate gifts in various ways that may contain more or less exceptions and be more or less stringent as the gift ban in Amendment 41. 
  • The plain language of Section 7 of Article XXIX of the Colorado Constitution, commonly referred to as Amendment 41, makes clear that it is not intended to apply to home rule municipalities that have adopted their own standards of conduct. 
  • A home rule municipality possesses all powers that are necessary, requisite, or proper for the government and administration of its local and municipal, and all powers that are granted to home rule municipalities by Article XX of the Colorado Constitution. 
  • If a home rule municipality has adopted a resolution or ordinance addressing the matters covered by amendment, that municipality meets the requirements of the exemption set forth in § 7 of Article XXIX of the Colorado Constitution and is not subject to the application of the article. 

 

CML joined several municipalities and submitted testimony and written statements in strong disagreement with the IEC’s draft opinion concerning the extent to which home rule municipalities must “address” the ethical requirements outlined in Amendment 41 to be exempt from its requirements.  

Aurora responded to an inquiry from the IEC chair made during the initial hearing on a request filed by the secretary of state, which request has yet to be acted on by the IEC. 

Colorado Springs submitted comments on the IEC draft opinion. 

The jurisdiction of the IEC to issue a position statement or any guidance concerning the IEC’s interpretation of Amendment 41’s applicability to home rule municipalities is questionable. Many municipalities continue to follow their own adopted standards of conduct, despite the guidelines listed in the Final Position Statement 16-01.