Widespread gift-taking, conflicts led to measure
Legislation designed to prdvent conflicts of interest at the Colorado Lottery passed a key hurdle Monday and will likely soon land on the governor's desk.
The legislation was created in the wake of deep-seated problems at the Lottery, where officials routinely accepted dinners, golf games and other gifts from vendors doing business with the agency.
A key portion of 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 employees.
Senate Bill 204 soared through the House of Representatives on Monday in a 59-6 vote. Minor changes made to the bill are expected to be approved by the Senate, and the measure will then head to Gov. Bill Owens.
"We knew we needed to make changes to Lottery oversight and we made those changes," said sponsor Sen. Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood. "It was a consensus bill. That's why it went through so easily."
Under this legislation, the Lottery director would be required to make sure full criminal-background investigations are conducted on Lottery vendors, members of the Lottery Commission and employees in the agency.
The measure would also bar Lottery officials from taking jobs with agency vendors for two years after leaving the Lottery, making it the strictest employment ban in state government. Other state workers are barred from taking jobs with state vendors for six months after leaving.
The legislation was spurred by audits and news reports last year focusing on gift-giving at the Colorado Lottery.
Ultimately, an investigation of the Lottery by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation detailed widespread gift-taking and policy violations.
The Arapahoe County district attorney is deciding whether to file criminal charges based on the CBI's probe.