Vail Daily letter: Money talks
Gov. John Hickenlooper recently spoke at a housing forum held on March 30 at The Curtis Hotel in Denver, where he concluded that the state Legislature needs to reform Colorado’s construction defect law to address the Denver metro (and mountain community) housing affordability crisis. He’s right, of course. The current law simply makes it too easy for homeowners to sue over defects. In response, insurance companies have jacked up rates for builders, making it virtually impossible for them to construct for-sale condo products without unreasonable risk exposure and costs. Colorado’s current construction defect law is a trial lawyer’s dream.
Democratic leaders in the House, led by Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, seem challenged to arrive at the same conclusion, defending the law as untouchable. They’ve spun a populist tale of “consumer protection,” but the story is weak. Reasonable evidence shows that the current law is having profound and detrimental effects on Coloradans and threatens the ongoing strength of the state’s economy.
Enter Denver-based trial lawyers Scott Sullan, Ron Sandgrund and their associates including the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. According to Colorado’s campaign finance disclosure website, TRACER, these folks have contributed more than $1 million to Democratic politicians in Colorado since 1996. That’s “relationship building” to the tune of $50,000 per year for the past 20 years.
So, while Democrats at the statehouse are, in their hearts, finding it harder and harder to defend their position on its policy merits, they will continue to do so. It’s an old and tired story, read frequently by those on both sides of the aisle: Money talks.