Forty Years Ago This Week: Rep. Frank DeFilippo’s, R-Golden, travel history raised a few eyebrows among Boulder County Republican Party insiders. Within a week DeFilippo had attended gatherings in Clear Creek County, Kiowa in eastern Colorado and a steak fry in Boulder.

With the upcoming reapportionment, several Boulder Republicans wondered whether DeFilippo was doing some preemptive campaigning should his district be expanded.

“I just enjoy being with Republicans,” DeFilippo said to The Colorado Statesman. “I just enjoy getting together with real people.”

DeFilippo said he’d “probably” run for another term in the statehouse and that traveling to Republican get-togethers was “for the fun of it.”

Twenty Years Ago: Rep. Peter Groff, D-Denver, opened the first meeting of the Subcommittee on Demographic Disparities, which was created to examine racial bias in criminal sentencing. The subcommittee would report back to the Interim Committee on Criminal Sentencing with its findings.

“The first thing I’ve found as I have examined this issue is that we lack adequate information in many areas to assess what disparities exist and what can be done about them,” Groff said. “The first goal of this committee is to gather the information we need to do our jobs as public officials and maintain a fair and efficient justice system.”

The subcommittee’s findings included specific issues on the relationship between sentence length, length of stay and ethnicity, recidivism by ethnicity and actions taken by other states to address the over-representation of minorities in the criminal justice system.

“There is no question that there seems to be a bias in our criminal justice system, and that bias needs to be addressed,” Groff said. “I will be asking the Interim Committee on Criminal Sentencing to recommend a comprehensive study by the state into demographic disparity in criminal sentencing.”

Nearly all of the first day’s witnesses supported the idea of a comprehensive study including Phil Cherner of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar and Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter.

Groff was a founder of the Center for African America Policy at the University of Denver and in addition to his background in law, was the deputy political director for Roy Romer’s 1994 gubernatorial campaign.

Fifteen Years Ago: A report released by Coloradans for Clean Government titled “Gift-Giving in Colorado Politics” reported that state legislators and Gov. Bill Owens received more than $200,000 in gifts and free trips from lobbyists.

Jared Polis, co-chair for Coloradans for Clean Government, said, “Expensive gifts and free international trips from lobbyists further erode citizen’s trust in their elected representatives and the integrity of our democratic process.”

“When Coloradans read about all these expensive gifts,” Polis added, “to their elected officials, they question whether public officials are fighting for their interests or the special interests.”

“Gift-Giving in Colorado Politics” listed a few of the gifts given, among them: hand-held computers, river tours, fly-fishing lessons, circus tickets and flights to Israel and China.

Also numerous among the gifts were tickets to sporting and cultural events.

“Most Coloradans cannot afford to take their legislators to a Broncos game to discuss the impact of rising energy costs on their lives,” said Jenny Flanagan, executive director of Coloradans Common Cause. “When lobbyists use gifts and trips to curry favor with elected officials, the voices of ordinary Coloradans are muffled.”

Polis said that lobbyists spent more than $22 million per year to influence state public policy.

“That is why Coloradans support a common-sense approach to ethical government similar to that used in the majority of states. Like all Americans, they are thirsty for meaningful reform.”

Rachael Wright is the author of the Captain Savva Mystery series, with degrees in Political Science and History from Colorado Mesa University, and is a contributing writer to Colorado Politics and The Gazette.

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