DENVER, Colo. (Legal Newsline)--A Colorado watchdog group Tuesday called on state Attorney General John Suthers not to serve as legal counsel to the state's new Independent Ethics Commission.
The Republican attorney general drew the ire of Colorado Ethics Watch after he advised the panel's commissioners that they had "no choice" but to be represented by his office, as all state departments are.
The group said when voters approved the creation of the ethics commission, which has subpoena power, they intended it to be free from the officials it is intended to monitor.
"The Colorado Supreme Court has interpreted this voter mandate to mean that, unlike other state boards and commissions, the Independent Ethics Commission must be 'separate and distinct' from both the executive and legislative branches," they said in a statement.
"As a member of the executive branch, the attorney general's representation of the IEC would nullify that independence," the group said.
The panel was created by voter-approved Amendment 41, which also placed restrictions on gifts given to public officials.
The Common Cause-backed ballot measure also bars statewide officeholders from lobbying certain other state elected officials for pay for two years after leaving office.
Suthers has acknowledged that he and the attorneys in his office could recuse themselves when there is a conflict of interest.
In those cases, the IEC could retain independent counsel, he said.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.