The Independent Ethics Commission, or IEC, was created by voter initiative in November 2006 with the passage of Amendment 41 to the Colorado Constitution. Amendment 41 is now known as Article XXIX and is titled “Ethics in Government”. Section 5 of Article XXIX created the Independent Ethics Commission with the express purpose of hearing complaints, issuing findings, and assessing penalties, as well as issuing advisory opinions on ethics issues arising under Article XXIX and under any other standards of conduct and reporting requirements as provided by law.
Who makes up the IEC?
The IEC consists of five members, one is appointed by the Governor, one by the House of Representatives, one by the Senate, one by the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, and one by the other four Commissioners. The fifth Commissioner must be a representative of local government. The Commissioners serve without pay, but are reimbursed for expenses. No more than two members may be from the same political party. Each member serves a four-year term. Terms are staggered and a member may serve multiple terms.
What issues does the IEC address?
Some examples of questions the IEC has addressed include:
What is a gift?
When is it appropriate for a government employee to accept a gift?
Is a government employee prohibited from taking a particular job after leaving the government job?
Is it permissible for a government employee to accept free travel to a conference?
Which public officials or government employees fall under the IEC’s jurisdiction?
Article XXIX gives the IEC jurisdiction over the following persons, collectively known as “covered individuals”:
Members of the Colorado General Assembly: state senators and representatives.
Government employees: Any employee, including independent contractors, of the state executive branch, the state legislative branch, a state agency, a public institution of higher education, or any county or municipal government. "Government employee" does not include members of the general assembly or public officers.
Local government officials: Any elected or appointed official of a county or municipal government. "Local government official" does not include an employee of a local government.
- Public officers: Any elected officer, including all statewide elected officeholders, the head of any department of the executive branch, and elected and appointed members of state boards and commissions. "Public officer" does not include a member of the general assembly, a member of the judiciary, any local government official, or any member of a board, commission, council or committee who receives no compensation other than a per diem allowance or necessary and reasonable expenses.
Who is not included under the IEC’s jurisdiction?
Among others, the following persons are not subject to the IEC’s jurisdiction: federal employees, elected federal officials, members of special districts or school districts, and state court judges.
What does the IEC do?
The IEC provides formal advice about ethics issues. Covered individuals may obtain formal IEC advice by requesting an Advisory Opinion, members of the public may obtain formal advice by requesting a Letter Ruling. The IEC issues Position Statements as general statements of policy affecting many people. The IEC hears ethics complaints and is authorized to impose penalties.