Coffman to face conflict-of-interest hearing |

Coffman to face conflict-of-interest hearing

DENVER, Colorado ” Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman will face an ethics hearing over a conflict-of-interest complaint stemming from his former job as secretary of state.

The Republican is accused of improperly allowing an employee who dealt with elections to also operate a partisan political business. Coffman will go before the new state Independent Ethics Commission next month.

A 2007 state audit concluded that Coffman failed to properly supervise his employees. Afterward Coffman set up a new policy preventing election workers on his staff from partisan activity.

The ethics complaint also accused Coffman of improperly approving electronic voting machines made by a company that hired a lobbying group he used to run his successful congressional campaign.

The complaint was filed last year by Colorado Ethics Watch, a government watchdog group. Coffman and other Republicans have complained the ethics group targets only Republicans, and Coffman has denied wrongdoing.

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Coffman was in Washington Tuesday. A spokesman referred questions to Coffman’s Denver lawyer, who did not immediately return calls.

The ethics commission was created just last year, and Coffman’s hearing will be the panel’s first. The ethics commission can make determinations someone acted unethically, and possibly issue fines, but it is not a criminal court.

Two of five members on the panel ” Republican Sally Hopper and Democrat Roy Wood ” have recused themselves from the case because of personal contacts with Coffman.

Coffman has called the complaint against him “frivolous and brought for the purposes of harassment.” His attorney argued the complaint should be tossed, but the ethics commission last week determined the complaint should be heard.

Coffman took congressional office in January, replacing retired Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo in a district in Denver’s southern suburbs.

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