Lawmaker Calls For Audit Of Governor’s Energy Office

DENVER (CBS4)– A state lawmaker is calling for an audit of the Governor’s Energy Office. The action comes after $9 million in taxpayer money couldn’t be accounted for.

There are also allegations of questionable spending by the agency.

“When you see all these red flags you start digging deeper,” said Rep. Cindy Acree.

The Republican Legislative Audit Committee Vice Chair said it took an Open Records request to get the agency to turnover their expenses.

Acree said what she found detailed on a spreadsheet hundreds of pages long alarmed her.

Over the past three years the agency has spent nearly $52,000 on cell phone bills, $455,000 on travel to places like London, Tokyo and Hawaii. And $9 million was unaccounted for.

“Some of this I’m really skeptical about,” said Acree when referring to $13,000 for rent and storage at a high rise and thousands of dollars for lobbyists, churches and a Democratic Caucus luncheon.

Governor’s Energy Office spokeswoman Denise Stepto said the expenditures in question happened under a different director. She said a third of the staff has turned over since those items were recorded. Stepto also said the agency has changed travel and cell phone policies.

“When something like this comes to you, you realize there might be other things you don’t know about and the perception may be that we may be hiding something,” said Stepto.

That’s why Acree has asked the state to investigate.

“I think the bottom line is we need an audit to uncover everything that office is doing,” said Acree.

She is also asking Colorado’s congressional delegation to launch a federal investigation.

In a statement, Tom Plant, the former director of the Governor’s Energy Office said, “There are not missing funds. All funds, revenues and expenditures can be fully accounted for.”

The agency received $120 million in 2010, much of it state and federal tax dollars.

The Governor’s Energy Office said it welcomes an audit and plans to request one itself. The audit could take up to a year and could cost $100,000.

  • Mike

    Always trust a woman’s intuition.

  • Poot

    Where there’s smoke there’s fire. I worked at times closely with GEO ever since Ritter’s creation of it. He packed it with activists where the end justified the means. They were brazen and under Ritter’s watch they spent like drunken sailors while destroying their credibility and trustworthiness among Colorado’s energy professionals. Please keep the pressure on. Thank goodness this is happening.

  • XWyoEnergyOffice

    Ritter didn’t create the GEO. It has been around since the Carter Administration and has been funded by the DOE under Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2 and Obama. Corresponding under Lamm, Roemer, Owens, Ritter, Hickenlooper in Colorado. DOE does annual audit and each State office is required to file quarterly reports with The Department of Energy. I would not doubt there has been poor use of the Tax dollars and some questionable expenditures but no more than in the Department of Defense being misused by private contrators like Halliburton = Blackwater.

  • Done

    For the first three years of the Ritter administration the GEO spent state general funds. Xcel and other utilities also contribute to GEO programs. The state auditor investigated and found issues, but did not follow up.

  • Brandy

    Still another example of government waste, fraud and mismanagement that is bleeding Colorado and the nation dry.

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