Oil and gas and private donors paid for initiatives in Hickenlooper’s administration, investigation finds
The donations overlapped with state business but the governor’s office had no conflict of interest policy, The Colorado Sun and CBS4 found
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper accepted millions of dollars from corporations and nonprofits to fund initiatives and positions in his office — an arrangement that came with limited oversight and public disclosure despite the potential conflicts of interest.
The most significant corporate donations came from the oil and gas industry, where Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy gave at least $325,000 to Hickenlooper’s office in his second term alone, according to a months-long analysis of state records conducted by The Colorado Sun and CBS4 Denver. At least one donation from Anadarko came in May 2017, weeks after the deadly Firestone explosion that investigators traced back to a well owned by the company.
The companies sponsored the internship program in the governor’s office and initiatives related to veterans and childhood literacy, according to records and interviews. Other significant donations came from private foundations and nonprofits that funded efforts to address health care, homelessness and more. And the donors behind some contributions are listed as anonymous.
Hickenlooper is not the first Colorado governor to embrace corporate money for government expenses, and the practice has continued under his successor Gov. Jared Polis. Polis has accepted at least $700,000 from private foundations since 2019, in part to fund six positions in the governor’s office, The Sun and CBS4 found.
But Hickenlooper expanded the practice to a new level as a vocal proponent of public-private partnerships.
His ties to corporate interests are facing renewed scrutiny as he seeks the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in the June 30 primary. His campaign rival, Andrew Romanoff, the former state House speaker, is highlighting Hickenlooper’s close relationship with the oil and gas industry and past campaign contributions from energy executives.
Most of the entities that made the gifts, grants or donations worked on issues in front of state regulators or legislators, but the governor’s office did not have a written policy to prevent conflicts of interest. The analysis found no evidence that the donations were connected to official action taken by Hickenlooper’s administration.
To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.
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