24-18-103. Public trust - breach of fiduciary duty
(1) The holding of public office or employment is a public trust, created by the confidence which the electorate reposes in the integrity of public officers, members of the general assembly, local government officials, and employees. A public officer, member of the general assembly, local government official, or employee shall carry out his duties for the benefit of the people of the state.
(2) A public officer, member of the general assembly, local government official, or employee whose conduct departs from his fiduciary duty is liable to the people of the state as a trustee of property and shall suffer such other liabilities as a private fiduciary would suffer for abuse of his trust. The district attorney of the district where the trust is violated may bring appropriate judicial proceedings on behalf of the people. Any moneys collected in such actions shall be paid to the general fund of the state or local government. Judicial proceedings pursuant to this section shall be in addition to any criminal action which may be brought against such public officer, member of the general assembly, local government official, or employee.
Source: L. 88: Entire article added, p. 900, 1, effective July 1.
This section, when read in conjunction with the rest of the standards of conduct, establishes an ethical standard of conduct concerning activities that could allow covered individuals to improperly benefit financially from their public employment. Thus, allegations that a public official breached his or her fiduciary duty under this section by using public employment for improper personal financial gain fell within the ambit of the independent ethics commissions (IECs) jurisdiction under 5 of art. XXIX of the state constitution.Gessler v. Smith, 2018 CO 48, 419 P.3d 964, cert. denied, U.S. , 139 S. Ct. 430, 202 L. Ed. 2d 318.
Given the allegations against the former secretary of state, the IEC properly exercised jurisdiction under 5 of art. XXIX of the state constitution. The claims were predicated on allegations that the secretary improperly used his discretionary funds for personal financial gain specifically, that he used state funds for partisan purposes and that he accepted a reimbursement for personal purposes. The allegations clearly implicate the ethical standard of conduct set forth in this section and thus fall within the IECs jurisdiction under 5 of article XXIX. Gessler v. Smith, 2018 CO 48, 419 P.3d 964, cert. denied, U.S. , 139 S. Ct. 430, 202 L. Ed. 2d 318 (2018).
Secretary of state breached the public trust for private gain in violation of this section by using funds from his discretionary account for purposes other than official business. Colo. Ethics Watch v. Gessler, Indep. Ethics Commn 12-07.
Acceptance of gifts from partner nonprofit organ procurement organization by drivers license examiners may result in appearance of impropriety. Indep. Ethics Commn Advisory Opinion 14-08.
Employment opportunities sought by compliance investigator in the financial unit of the marijuana enforcement division of the department of revenue present a potential violation of the public trust and a potential conflict of interest and could inhibit compliance investigators ability to carry out regulatory duties in an impartial manner for the benefit of the state. Indep. Ethics Commn Advisory Opinion 19-05.
Parties stipulation that, by admitting to facts sufficient to prove embezzlement of public property and official misconduct, respondent has admitted to breach of public trust and fiduciary duty pursuant to this section. King v. King, Indep. Ethics Commn 14-16.