Two stories published in the Colorado Springs Independent and the Colorado Springs Gazette over the last several days contain some disturbing allegations that members of the Hickenlooper administration may have participated in illegal backdoor lobbying.

Colorado law bars state boards from being lobbied privately without the other side present.

However, based on the reports that’s exactly what appears to have happened as the El Pomar Foundation sought to kill Transit Mix Concrete Co.’s Hitch Rack Ranch Quarry permit by privately lobbying officials close to Hickenlooper:

After the permit was rejected and Transit Mix fought to secure communications between El Pomar and Hickenlooper officials, El Pomar made what appears to be a massive $15 million settlement to the company.

Remarkably, neither John Hickenlooper’s former Chief of Staff Patrick Meyers nor his Chief Legal Counsel Jacki Cooper Melmed (who still serves as Gov. Polis’ Chief Legal Counsel) went on the record to defend the legality of their actions.

While both reporters cite multiple damning emails, at least 120 pages of records were destroyed during Gov. Polis’ transition in violation of the state’s records management manual, raising further questions about what transpired.

Read more below:

El Pomar Foundation paid Transit Mix $15 million after private meeting over quarry came to light
Colorado Springs Independent
Pam Zubeck
July 17 2020

El Pomar Foundation took the unusual step of paying $15 million to Transit Mix Concrete Co. in late 2018 after the company apparently alleged foundation officials attempted to block approval of the controversial Hitch Rack Ranch quarry by acting outside the legitimate public process.

Read more here.


‘Backdoor’ lobbying effort to kill Hitch Rack Ranch quarry in El Paso County may have violated law
Colorado Springs Gazette
Christopher Osher
July 19 2020

Officials in then Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration helped an influential Colorado Springs nonprofit privately lobby a member of the state mining board to kill plans for a granite quarry, setting up a secret briefing that legal experts described as a potential violation of state law and that proponents of the quarry believe doomed their chances at success.

In the end, the proposed quarry in southwest El Paso County was sidelined, dashing the hopes of those who argued it would deliver the county jobs, decrease construction costs across the West and generate millions of dollars in new revenue to school districts in the state.

State records show that members of the board of the Colorado Springs-based El Pomar Foundation, among the largest nonprofits in the state, relied on relationships with officials in the Hickenlooper administration to privately press their case that a permit for the quarry, at Hitch Rack Ranch south of Colorado Springs, should be denied due to environmental concerns.

Read more here.