Sen. Vicki Marble found guilty of ethics violation in case involving Extraction Oil and Gas-paid meeting | MyWindsorNow.com

Sen. Vicki Marble found guilty of ethics violation in case involving Extraction Oil and Gas-paid meeting

Tyler Silvy
tsilvy@greeleytribune.com

Marble

DENVER — Colorado Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, on Monday was found guilty of ethical violations centering on her role in a public meeting on energy paid for by Extraction Oil and Gas.

The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission voted 3-2 to find Marble in violation of constitutional ethics requirements, bringing to an apparent conclusion a case that has stretched on for months, starting with a complaint centering on a meeting that took place more than a year ago.

The complaint alleged Marble, whose district includes part of Weld County, received a benefit from a public meeting Feb. 15, 2017, at a C.B. & Potts restaurant in Broomfield that was paid for by Extraction Oil and Gas.

The commission also voted to fine Marble $2,242.36, which represents double the cost of the event.

The meeting was billed as giving residents the facts about oil and gas development in Broomfield. Marble's name was on the invitation, and there was no disclosure that Extraction paid for the event, which fed up to 100 people.

Marble said she wouldn't comment until the case was finished, saying "What if there's an appeal?"

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To date, the Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services has spent $47,832 in taxpayer money with Denver-based law firm Holland & Hart to defend Marble, the office confirmed Monday.

Colorado Independent Ethics Commission rulings can be appealed to a court, but Marble's attorney, Marcy Glenn, said she wouldn't make a decision on an appeal until after reading through the commission's opinion, which likely won't be made public until after the commission's May 7 meeting.

Marble's aide, Sheryl Fernandez, organized the event, and in previous testimony before the Independent Ethics Commission, Fernandez and an Extraction representative cast doubt on Marble's true involvement, saying she didn't find out she would host until 24 hours before the event.

During a Feb. 12 meeting, commissioners were split on whether Marble received a benefit from the meeting, but they all agreed testimony on Marble's behalf wasn't credible.

"I have no doubt this event was an industry-sponsored event to promote the industry viewpoint," Leone said Feb. 12. "Sen. Marble likely shared the industry's view. There is no way to characterize it other than that. But I don't find anything wrong with that."

Leone joined commissioner April Jones in voting that there wasn't a violation. Commissioners Matt Smith, Gary Reiff and Jo Ann Sorensen voted that there was a violation.

Both Reiff and Smith said they understood the dissenting viewpoints, but they still found cause to find Marble in violation. Reiff said he agreed with Leone that he doesn't want to discourage public officials from hosting public meetings.

"My concern was the lack of transparency, and how that lack of transparency went to a gift," Reiff said. "The transparency of who is sponsoring it is fundamental to whether or not there was something going on. That's the key issue to me, the utter lack of transparency."

Up next

The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission will meet next at 9 a.m. May 7 at the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, 1300 Broadway, Denver. The commission is scheduled to review and approve its official opinion in the ethics case against Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins.