FACT CHECK: Secret Money Republican Group Launches Misleading Attack Ad to Distract from Gardner’s Record - John Hickenlooper for U.S. Senate

FACT CHECK: Secret Money Republican Group Launches Misleading Attack Ad to Distract from Gardner’s Record

Hickenlooper for Colorado Communications Director Melissa Miller released the following statement on a misleading attack ad launched by a dark money group with ties to the Republicans behind the politically-motivated ethics complaint against former Governor Hickenlooper: “This dishonest attack irresponsibly exploits a national tragedy and comes from the same sort of secret money groups behind the phony Republican ethics complaint. These funds have nothing to do with 9/11, but Senator Gardner’s allies are trying to smear John because they can’t defend Gardner’s record.” 

Please see below to get the facts about this misleading smear. 


The dark money group falsely claims Colorado misused a ‘9/11 recovery fund.’

FACT: This fund has nothing to do with 9/11. The federal fund paying for former Governor Hickenlooper’s legal representation is leftover ‘state fiscal relief’ from a 2003 federal law. This fund has been used by every Governor since then on various state expenses.

  • The ‘Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003’ “Provides $10 billion for State and local government assistance and $10 billion for Medicaid assistance through September 30, 2004. Amends the Social Security Act to add a new title, Temporary State Fiscal Relief” – Congress.gov
  • “These funds were intended to provide antirecession fiscal stimulus to the national economy and to help close state budget shortfalls due to the recession that began in March 2001.” – U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • President Bush did not even mention 9/11 in his remarks at the signing ceremony of the “Jobs And Growth Tax Reconciliation Act.” – George Bush White House Archive
  • Colorado received a separate $122 million federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security post-9/11 for first responders—those funds are completely separate from the 2003 Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act Fund. – Denver Post
  • “For the past dozen years, the fund has been treated as a highly discretionary tool in the budgetary tool belts of Colorado’s governors, granting them wide flexibility over how its money was spent.” – Denver Post

The dark money group claims a ‘high-powered private lawyer’ is representing Hickenlooper

FACT: The attorney is representing the Office of the Governor, and it is routine for the state to appoint legal counsel to defend officials named in complaints.

  • “It’s been standard practice for the secretary of state, whether in office or after, to be represented by the Attorney General’s Office on legal matters.” –Colorado Springs Gazette
  • “In the past two years, the state has also covered the legal costs for an outside attorney representing state Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins” – Colorado Politics

The dark money group ignores key facts on the politically-motivated ethics complaint

FACT: Independent reporting has confirmed that the facts don’t “substantiate many of the claims” made in the politically- motivated dark money ethics complaints against Hickenlooper – and the secret money organization behind these attacks has admitted as much.

  • “The Public Trust Institute, the dark-money funded conservative political group that filed the complaint in 2018, acknowledged that it had no evidence to show those travel arrangements amounted to an inappropriate gift to the governor and the state’s Independent Ethics Commission dismissed those matters.” – The Colorado Sun
  • “As far as we are concerned, both men staked their reputations on accusations that it turns out were easily refuted…At best it represents lazy reporting or perhaps willful disregard of the truth. At its worst, they were politically motivated lies.” – Denver Post Editorial

FACT: The dark money group behind this ad has ties to the Public Trust Institute, the dark money group that filed the ethics complaints against Hickenlooper

  • Unite for Colorado’s registered agent is also the registered agent for another dark money group, Defend Colorado. – Colorado Secretary of State
  • “Defend Colorado…lists its address as the same suite in Greenwood Village that the Public Trust Institute calls home.” – Denver Post

FACT: The politically-motivated ethics complaints were filed by a dark money Republican group with ties to America Rising, a national Republican opposition research group.

  • “The complaint comes from an organization whose leader is a Republican who has traded barbs in the past with the Democrat” – Denver Post
  • “The accusations in the complaint against Hickenlooper are based on records that appear to have been first released not to the Public Trust Institute (PTI), which has been the local face of the complaint, but to America Rising, a national Republican opposition research firm.” – Colorado Times Recorder


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