Colorado State Reps. Millie Hamner and Dave Young, both members of the state's budget-setting JBC, sent out the invites to their "JBC Happy Hour Fundraiser" (image above) in support of their candidacies to many of the state's leading lobbyists. These are many of the same lobbyists who will have to advocate for their clients' interests, including state budget requests, to Reps. Hamner and Young in the budget-setting process next year. The email containing the invites from Rep. Hamner reads:
From: Millie Hamner <REDACTED>
Date: Sunday, November 1, 2015
Subject: Fwd: JBC event invitation
I wanted to make sure you knew about the upcoming fundraiser on November 10 at 5:00 at La La's for Dave Young and me. Thanks so much for your ongoing support as we face a tough budget year. I hope to see you there!
The combination of the prominent use of their committee positions - ones that could benefit the clients of recipients of the invite - and Rep. Hamner’s: "Thanks so much for your ongoing support as we face a tough budget year," is an indicator of a pay-for-play shakedown of Colorado's lobbying corps by two Representatives in a position of power.
“Members of the Joint Budget Committee have to make the tough financial decisions when it comes to our state budget that picks winners and losers. They are the most susceptible to pay-for-play,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. "The use of a seat on Colorado's most powerful legislative committee to shakedown campaign donations from lobbyists is unethical. Those with the power of the purse strings to the state budget should hold themselves to a higher standard than this."