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Ethics Watchdog Calls for Probe of Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

FACT Says Governor Turned Senate Candidate Illegally Recycled Campaign Footage

Washington, D.C.—December 11, 2019— The non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), today, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and his Senate campaign, “Hickenlooper for Colorado,” for violating code 11 CFR § 110.3(d) governing contribution and expenditure limitations and prohibitions.

The complaint maintains that in late August 2019, Hickenlooper released a 90-second advertisement announcing his campaign for United States Senate for the 2020 election cycle. This advertisement clearly contained multiple scenes utilizing footage originally created and paid for by Hickenlooper’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign. However, the footage is an asset of the state campaign, and Hickenlooper for Colorado did not report paying his gubernatorial campaign for those assets, as they are legally required to do.

Under Federal law, federal campaign committees are prohibited from accepting “[t]ransfers of funds or assets from a candidate’s campaign committee or account for nonfederal election.”

Although the footage in question may be viewed on the website of the advertising and marketing company that produced the video (Putnam Partners LLC), the posted content is considered an asset that is protected by copyright laws and cannot be transferred between candidates and outside groups. As such, Hickenlooper is not allowed to simply take this video.

Appropriate disbursements to or contributions from the copyright owner would have been necessary-- none of which are recorded in Hickenlooper for Colorado’s public reports, further proving the illegality of the Senate campaign’s recycling of the gubernatorial campaign footage.

“Federal law only allows candidates to accept contributions within amount and source limitations. State campaigns are not subject to those same limitations and if a federal candidate takes assets from a state campaign, it is a violation of federal law,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). “The identical video footage used by Hickenlooper’s federal campaign needs to be investigated not only for this specific asset but also to determine whether other state campaign assets have been transferred,” added Arnold.

A full copy of the complaint can be found here.

FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.  For more on FACT, visit:


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