The watchdog group that formed in 2006 to monitor the state’s Ethics Commission that voters initiated with the passage of Amendment 41, announced its plans to close its doors by the end of the year.
The Executive Director of Colorado Ethics Watch, Luis Toro shared his reflections and insights with KGNU reporter Robin Ryan about the shifts that have impacted the quality of governance over the course of the organization’s lifespan. Toro contends the infamous 2010 Supreme Court Citizen’s United decision can be felt today all the way down to the hyper-local level elections and said he believes the advent of technology showed more promise than he sees as being realized, due to moneyed interests driving the dialogue as opposed to the platform for marginalized and more diverse voices that could have been.
“The ethics commission can’t take action on its own, it has to wait for someone to file a complaint…I would definitely change that and allow them to investigate things on their own initiative.”
He says media consolidation continues to play a role in the formation of public opinion and contends that publicly financed campaigns offer communities the best chance to combat the influence of moneyed interests accustomed to purchasing favorable policies.
Toro described a weakened state of regulatory oversight and said he was surprised to learn that 10 Colorado based Fortune 500 companies have collectively paid $1.8 billion to resolve charges of violations and misconduct. DaVita Healthcare Partners ranks # 181st has spent $4.5 million over 18 years supporting candidates nationwide and their chairman, former gubernatorial candidate, Kent Thiry has made over $3 million on campaign contributions himself, according to data available at followthemoney.org which is maintained by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.