“Shocked, but not surprised!” exclaimed Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs) when asked for his reaction to the performance audit of the Colorado Energy Office (C.E.O.). This in-depth review of policies, programs and expenditures of more than $250 million was performed by the Colorado State Auditor. Available online at www.state.co.us/auditor, the audit asserts that the “C.E.O. was unable to demonstrate that the more than $252 million in federal, state, and private funds spent by the C.E.O. over the past six years was spent cost-effectively.”
Senator Cadman shared some history about this office, and his concerns over its management and funding. “Back then (2007) this was called the ‘Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation’,” Cadman cited. “This audit surely proves that recently removing ‘Management’ from the title of this department was prophetic,” he quipped.
The senator recalled a debate from 2007. “I remember a proposal that we affectionately referred to as ‘Ritter’s Revenues for Rainbows.’ The (Ritter) administration ran legislation (SB 07-246) to divert limited gaming funds into his new ‘Clean Energy Fund’ managed by the his energy office. The first year it was $7 million dollars, the next year $8.5 million, then a whopping $25 million more in the third year.”
Cadman claims Ritter’s bill was promoting moonbeams and fairytales with tens of millions of dollars that were being diverted from capital construction and the Highway Users Tax Fund. “Our concerns for transportation dollars fell on deaf ears,” lamented Cadman as the senator recalled specifics of that debate. He was one of 23 members of the House of Representatives who voted against it. “Instead of addressing our backlog of disintegrating roads, collapsing bridges and leaking roofs, these dollars were diverted, then wasted.”
Audit Committee members, Senators Steve King (R-Grand Junction) and Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs), met with the Minority Leader to personally brief him on the findings of the audit. “I applaud the efforts of my colleagues on the Legislative Audit Committee who are literally grieving over this taxpayer boondoggle of a scale so large that it rivals Solyndra,” said Cadman. “Unfortunately for the taxpayers, our fears came to fruition on this one, which is why I was not surprised at the audit findings of mismanagement. The shock came as the total dollars, from state and federal funds, was finally disclosed.”
“I know that Governor Hickenlooper inherited this mess from his predecessor, but the C.E.O. may need a ‘time-out’ to get its house in order,” Senator Cadman replied when asked how he thought the current administration was responding to this situation. “It sounds like there’s a lot of work to do, but over a quarter of a billion dollars of taxpayer money may never be fully accounted for, and our citizens need accountability for what happened to their money and assurances that it will not be repeated.”