Legislative leaders dismiss ethics complaint against lobbyist | SummitDaily.com

Legislative leaders dismiss ethics complaint against lobbyist

DENVER – Legislative leaders dismissed an ethics complaint against a lobbyist Monday after deciding they didn’t have the right to regulate free speech outside the Capitol.Reps. Alice Borodkin of Denver and Nancy Todd of Aurora had accused William Mutch, who represented the business lobbying organization Colorado Concern, of orchestrating automated phone calls to constituents saying Borodkin and Todd were sponsoring a bill that would raise home taxes.Borodkin and Todd, both Democrats, said no such bill existed.The calls came as lawmakers were considering legislation to make it easier for home buyers to get builders to make warranty repairs.Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver, agreed with a three-member ethics panel of lawmakers that recommended no action against Mutch.He said he agreed with panel member Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, who told legislative leaders, “We don’t have the right or ability to regulate or monitor lobbyist’s free speech communications with citizens. To do so would lead us down a dangerous path.”Mutch could have been barred from lobbying at the Capitol or issued a letter of censure. Instead, the divided ethics panel referred the matter to the Legislature’s executive committee.Sen. Stephanie Takis, D-Aurora, wanted Mutch censured. She said the calls were a misleading attempt to deceive voters. She said the Legislature should change the rules to make it a violation.Mutch told the ethics panel last month he had a constitutional right to express his views on legislation affecting the homebuilders he represented. He said the ethics investigation was a tactic “to stifle the political speech of opposing factions.”His attorney, Jeff Springer, said Monday the investigation caused irreparable harm.”I think it’s unfortunate William had to go through this ordeal because this was clearly at the core of free speech,” Springer said.

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