The video posted to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s official Facebook account was short, less than a minute. Hickenlooper stands in front of the official seal and the flag of the state of Colorado and says he’s been challenged by the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund (the “DSCF”) to donate $20 to the Glass Ceiling Challenge to help elect women.
The problem is that Secretary of State rules make that office the keeper of the state seal and prohibit its use for business or political purposes, and the Fair Campaign Act prohibits the use of government resources to influence an election.
The conservative group Compass Colorado first noticed the Facebook video Thursday evening and cried foul. The governor’s office then deleted the video.
In an email, the governor’s spokeswoman, Kathy Green, said the video represented a mistake by a staff member that was quickly corrected. She also said that the governor didn’t realize there was a political purpose.
“Not something the governor would ever do intentionally,” she wrote. “Just a staff error that slipped through. We believed the initiative was about promoting women’s success in business which of course the governor supports and did not realize it had political base. As soon as we realized the error, we took it down.”
The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund is dedicated to getting and keeping a Democratic majority in the Colorado Senate. Right now, the Republicans hold the state Senate by one seat.
Compass Colorado saved a copy of the video, which you can see here with commentary.
In the video, Hickenlooper said he was challenged by state Sen. Kerry Donovan and would donate in the name of his wife, Robin Pringle Hickenlooper. He then challenges Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, state Rep. Daneya Esgar and state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger to donate as well.
On Friday, Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House compared the deleted video to the controversy around Hillary Clinton’s email server and called for an ethics investigation.
“A full investigation needs to be conducted into Gov. Hickenlooper’s unethical and potentially illegal use of government resources for political fundraising,” House said in a press release.
“It’s hard to even imagine how Gov. Hickenlooper or the DSCF thought standing in front of the state seal to solicit campaign cash was appropriate or legal. Making matters worse, Gov. Hickenlooper deleted the video in an apparent attempt to conceal his offense.”
It didn’t appear as of Friday evening that any formal complaints had been filed.
In 2014, a staff member of Hickenlooper was disciplined after the Denver Post followed up on a tip that he had used a state computer to send Facebook invitations to a fundraiser.
“You may NEVER, EVER use State resources for campaign work,” Hickenlooper Chief of Staff Roxane White wrote in an email to state employees. “This includes conducting campaign business on your work computers or in the Capitol. If you violate this policy, disciplinary action will be taken.”