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Jason Salzman

Jason Salzman

Posted: February 7, 2011 04:49 PM

Kenny Be summed up Scott Gessler's moonlighting problem nicely in Westword last month, depicting Colorado's Secretary of State with a phone on each ear.

If you're the Denver Post, the two phones in the cartoon would have caught your eye, because the newspaper waged a multifaceted campaign to get Bill Ritter to turn over his personal cellphone records for public review--with his personal calls excised.

Ritter refused to do this, even though he apparently conducted state business on his personal cell phone, because he said it was an invasion of privacy.

The Post got pretty upset at Ritter, as was its custom at the time. There weren't any front-page editorials on this issue, but it hopped up and down on the editorial page, calling for the release of his cellphone records, and even filed a lawsuit that drags on to this day. (Two decisions have gone against the Post, and the daily has appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.)

Ritter has come and gone and, unfortunately, we never reviewed the state calls he made on his personal cellphone.

But the Post's campaign paid off.

John Hickenlooper told a conservative journalist that he'll use two cellphones, one for conducting the people's business and another for personal and campaign work.

He'll make records of calls on his "government cellphone" available for public review. And he plans to have a neutral party review the records from his private phone to make sure he's not hiding state biz there.

Former Post Editorial Board member and current Post reporter Chuck Plunkett discussed Hick's cellphone policies on Jon Caldara's Devil's Advocate TV show on KBDI. (The name of the show should actually be The Devil, dropping the "Advocate" part, but who am I?)

Caldara and Plunkett couldn't say enough good things about Hick's cellphone policies. And a Post editorial patted the new gov on the back.

Recent news cycles have illuminated other state officials whom the Post should now call on to follow Hick's lead.

I'm thinking of Colorado's proliferating crop of moonlighting public officials. Among other things, we need to be sure that their "conflict of time," as the Post put it, doesn't blend their two jobs together on their personal cellphones.

So that means these guys: GOP Attorney General John Suthers, who's teaching law classes; Secretary of State Scott Gessler, if he starts down the moonlighting path again; and Dwayne Romero, whom Hick appointed to lead the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Of most concern, when it comes to transparency, is Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton. He'll be raking in to $150,000 per year, at $250 per hour, working for his old real estate firm.

This works out to 600 hours or over 11 hours per week. That's over quarter time, based on a 40-hour work week. Of course, Stapleton's weeks will likely be longer, but it's a lot of time.

I mean, with 600 hours of out-of-state business to conduct, Stapleton will have to be on the phone so frequently that some state matters could slip onto his personal phone, despite his best intentions. He might just get mixed up about whose clock, I mean, phone he should be on, as he makes quick calls for his own business and then the people's.

I asked Stapleton's Communications Director Michael Fortney whether his boss would be following Hick's example on the cellphone issue.

He said he'll have one cellphone for personal use and another for matters relating to his state work.

"He's going to do his state business either on his land line or state-issued cellphone," Fortney told me. "He won't do state business on the personal."

Fortney has not yet discussed with Stapleton whether he will let a neutral party review records for his personal cellphone, as Hick says he'll do, and weed out anything that should be made public.

The Post, which has waged the good fight on the cellphone issue, should stay the course, with a focus mostly on Stapleton, but all the moonlighters should be urged to follow Hick's lead.

Here's video of Plunkett discussing the issue with Caldara and Todd Shepherd.

 

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