Sen. Vicki Marble faces ethics complaint in connection with oil and gas event
May 9, 2017
A state senator, whose district includes part of Weld County, may have run afoul of ethics laws by allowing, as alleged in an ethics complaint, an oil and gas company to foot the bill for one of her receptions.
The Feb. 15 event, hosted by state Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, was billed as a way to inform the public about oil and gas development. The invitation went out to area residents, who only had to RSVP and show up at CB&Potts near Flatirons Crossing mall to hear a "presentation of facts regarding the proposed oil and gas development in Broomfield and how other communities in Colorado have addressed similar issues."
Sheryl Fernandez, listed as the contact person on the invite, is Marble's legislative aide. She also is the chairwoman of the Broomfield County Republican Party, and the email address and phone number on the invitation are private, not those provided at the state Legislature.
Sarah Hall Mann, an attorney and community activist who lives in Broomfield with her husband, was interested and attended.
She entered a back room and was given two drink tickets for alcoholic beverages of her choice. A buffet was available, serving sliders, a variety of salads, raw vegetables, and dips.
Marble opened the meeting, followed by presentations by former Erie Mayor Joe Wilson, former Windsor Mayor John Vazquez, Michelle Smith from Vital, a pro-energy group, and Tara Sinclair of Water Valley Land Co. All had glowing things to say about their dealings with the oil and gas industry, Mann told the Colorado Independent.
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After the meeting, Mann was speaking with Wilson when she was approached by Brian Cain, a spokesperson from Extraction Oil and Gas. Extraction has faced vocal opposition from Broomfield residents for its plans to drill near the Wildgrass and Anthem developments, which is where Mann lives.
About 9 p.m., Mann said, a waitress came with the bill for the room rental, food, and drinks. A female employee from Extraction told the waitress to give the check to Cain, who handed the waitress his credit card and asked for a receipt. Mann did not notice how much the bill was, but estimates with 50 to 75 people in attendance, place the cost above the $59 limit on gifts to lawmakers imposed by Amendment 41, the state's ethics law.
Marble would not comment on the event or who funded it.
Repeated calls and emails for comment to Extraction Oil & Gas also were not returned.
Mann filed a complaint with the Independent Ethics Commission.
In April, Marble filed her quarterly gifts and honoraria report with the Secretary of State's office, and reported she had received nothing of value in the previous three months, which would have covered the event in Broomfield. Mann is looking into a campaign finance complaint, as well.
Marble's office says she has not seen the ethics complaint.