A Colorado state senator wants to bar elected state officials and their employees from spending public money on any print or visual media announcements, broadcasts, Web sites, or public communications that refer to the elected official or his or her employees by name or likeness.
State agencies and the Colorado Legislative Council, the research arm of the Legislature, have found that the state’s top elected officials spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting themselves and their official duties over the past year, putting their mugs and testimonials on everything from calendars to magazine ads.
The bill from Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, would ban the practice by the governor, secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general. It will be heard Wednesday by the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee.
Among the paid endorsements found by legislative analysts were $8,495 spent on Attorney General John Suthers’s ad touting his identity theft repair kit, and $174,000 for Treasurer Cary Kennedy’s promotion of a program to restore abandoned property to the owners. Gov. Bill Ritter’s ad in Colorado Biz magazine, urging more use of solar power with Sen. Michael Bennet, also cost taxpayers $1,862.
Cadman said it’s a waste of money at a time when lawmakers are cutting public education and other programs to pay the bills.
“I don’t believe someone should use the peoples’ coffers to promote themselves. Agencies can do that. We serve the state; the state doesn’t serve us,” Cadman said.
Cadman said Republicans have been just as guilty as Democrats using state resources to get their mugs before the public at public expenses.
But Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, said brochures could be reused by succeeding administrations if they didn’t have term-limited, elected officials on their covers because their missions don’t change.
Evan Dreyer, Ritter’s spokesman, defended Ritter’s ads, saying that “if agencies determine Bill Ritter is the best person to be their spokesman he will continue to be featured on brochures for the next 10 months.” Ritter is not seeking re-election and leaves office in January.
“We realize there’s a recession. We’re not printing promotions willy-nilly,” Dreyer said.
– Associated Press