Secretary of State works to improve lobbying transparency

The Colorado Secretary of State met with lobbyists and others Wednesday to talk about how to improve the SOS’ online system for filing lobbyist disclosures. Front row, left to right, Megan Wagner with Brandeberry McKenna Public Affairs;  Angie Binder with the Colorado Petroleum Association; Mike Beasley and Alec Wagner of 5280 Strategies; and Loren Furman, with the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. Back row, left to right, are three Secretary of State staffers,  Mike Hardin, director of Business and Licensing, Trevor Timmons, information technology director and Gary Zimmerman, chief of staff. Sitting with them is lawyer-lobbyist Mike Feeley. (SOS photo)

A working group of lobbyists and activists who use lobbying data met with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office this week to talk about how to make the reporting process more workable and transparent.

Lobbyists must register with the Secretary of State, and they electronically file information about the clients they work with and other data.

“You’re here because you’re the ones who have to input the information in the system and we don’t want to make it impossible for you to try to do your job,” said Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert.

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Secretary Williams doesn’t have a magic wand but …

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Chuck Berry, president of the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry, at CACI’s board meeting April 19. (SOS photo)

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams told business leaders recently that he and other state officials are working to help create a single system for new businesses to interact with multiple state agencies.

MyBizColorado, when it is unveiled, will be user friendly, intuitive and a more expedient way to register a business and obtain necessary licenses and permits.

“We want to make it easier for business,” Williams told the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry at a board of directors lunch meeting.

After his talk, Williams was asked, “If you could wave a magic wand to fix a few things what would they be?”

“The ability to get from Colorado Springs to Denver in a shorter amount of time,” said Williams, who commutes on Interstate 25.

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Sen. Cory Gardner, “our environmentalist,” addresses CACI

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at a lunch Thursday sponsored by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. (Photo courtesy of Evan Semón)
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at a lunch Thursday sponsored by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. (Photo courtesy of Evan Semón)

Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was introduced at a business lunch in Denver on Thursday as “our environmentalist on Capitol Hill” and dang if he didn’t get up and recycle a joke from his 2014 campaign.

Gardner noted that the attack ads aimed at him featured “grainy black-and-white pictures” and seemed to air “every 30 seconds.”

“One of the greatest places you can go to as a Republican in a heated campaign is Cabella’s,” he said, referring to the giant fishing-and-hunting outlet.

Per usual, the line elicited laughter. Gardner talked about customers coming up to him at the Cabella’s in Grand Junction and asking how he was doing. Two men in particular were staring at him. One walked off but the other said, “Hey, hey, are you — ?” and Gardner smiled and said, “Yeah, yeah, I am.”

“So he calls his buddy over and says, ‘Look, it’s Bill Owens!'” Gardner said, referring to a former governor.

The crowd at the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry gathering let out a big laugh, and Gardner then finished off with another line: “So now I go to REI.”

Keith Pearson, chair-elect of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, and Travis Webb, a managing partner at BKD LLP, the new CACI chair, at a lunch Thursday (Photo by Evan Semón)
Keith Pearson, chair-elect of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, and Travis Webb, a managing partner at BKD LLP and the new CACI chair, at a lunch Thursday in Denver. (Photo by Evan Semón)

The crowd also welcomed CACI’s new chairman, Travis Webb, a managing partner at BKD LLP, one of the nation’s largest accounting and advisory firms. The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry ‘s motto is “We champion a healthy business climate.”

Gardner last year defeated Democrat Mark Udall, becoming the first candidate in 36 years to knock off an incumbent Colorado U.S. senator. He told the crowd that he and Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and the rest of the Colorado delegation — featuring three Democrats and four Republicans — get along better than some delegations that are all members of the same party.

“The Colorado delegation works together better than any other delegation in the country,” Gardner said, adding that helped the state get the funding to finish the beleaguered Veterans Affairs hospital in Aurora.

The senator touched on a variety of topics, including broadband, deregulation, marijuana and banking, trade agreements and aerospace and technology. He got a big round of applause when he said the Senate passed the first long-term transportation bill in more than a decade, particularly after he spelled out what that money means for Colorado. And he talked about the need to bring the economic boom in certain parts of Colorado, such as the Denver metro area, to the rest of the state.

Gardner also joked on the situation in Washington, saying he is the only senator not running for president, and noted the one thing D.C. can agree on is who will not be speaker. He then pointed to CACI’s executive director, former state House Speaker Chuck Berry, and said a petition was circulating to put Berry in the post.

The line about Gardner being an environmentalist drew this response on Twitter from Conservation Colorado: “Interesting.” His environmental record was criticized during the campaign.