One of the Colorado state Senate's most powerful members unveiled legislation designed to prdvent conflicts of interest at the Colorado Lottery.
The legislation was created in concert with an ethics overhaul already underway at the Lottery and as the Arapahoe County district attorney is deciding whether to file criminal charges based on a recently concluded probe of the Lottery by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The legislation, in part, would bar Lottery officials from taking jobs with agency vendors for two years after leaving the Lottery.
If signed into law, it would create the strictest employment ban in state government, holding Lottery employees to a higher standard than other state workers. They are now barred from taking jobs with state vendors for six months after leaving government jobs, according to state law.
The legislation also requires the Lottery director to make sure full criminal-background investigations are conducted of Lottery vendors, members of the Lottery Commission and employees in the agency.
The bill would add the force of law to rules adopted by Lottery officials earlier this year. Those rules forbid those who want contracts with the agency from giving even so much as a cup of coffee to Lottery officials.
"Even the suppliers are agreeable to this bill," said Sen. Norma Anderson, the Lakewood Republican who sponsored Senate Bill 204. "It gives them direction."
The bill was created over the past two months with the help of legislators, the state Department of Revenue - which oversees the Lottery - and the state auditor.
"It was a collaborative effort," said Revenue spokeswoman Diane Reimer. "There's nothing we don't like."
State officials are still awaiting a decision from Arapahoe County District Attorney Jim Peters, who is poring over a CBI report that details widespread gift-taking and policy violations in the offices of the Colorado Lottery.
The report focuses largely on the past four years of the tenure of former Lottery head Mark Zamarripa, alleging that he presided over a culture of coziness with vendors.
Zamarripa resigned in November on the day he was to meet with the executive director of the Revenue Department to discuss expenses he incurred during a trip to New Orleans. The criminal investigation into the Lottery was launched soon after his departure.