Behold Adams County, the "unquestioned epicenter of ethics problems"

Slippery slopes: The non-profit legal watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch named its Top Ethical Failures of 2011 last week; the fourth annual report includes public officials, agencies and municipalities that committed some sort of ethics violation or showed a significant lack of judgment last year. The winners (or losers) included Adams County, which Ethics Watch called "the unquestioned epicenter of ethics problems in Colorado during 2011"; Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who was involved in suspect campaign-finance deals in Larimer County; Colorado Springs, which has some trouble with its own election laws; former Jefferson County Commissioner Kevin McCasky, who jumped to the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority, a group he'd boosted at Jeffco; and the State Board of Education, which allowed an abstinence-only sex-education group to work with members of the State Board of Education to circumvent state laws.

That last case was first revealed in an August 11, 2011, cover story in Westword. In "Forbidden Fruit," Andy Kopsa detailed how Board of Education member Peggy Littleton, operating without board approval, made an end run around then-governor Bill Ritter in 2010 and brought in federal funding for abstinence-only school programs. "That money is now paying for abstinence programs to go to public school auditoriums, training conferences, churches and community centers throughout Colorado," Kopsa wrote, "spreading the message that abstinence-only-until-marriage is the only way to have disease-free, worthwhile sex."

You can find that story at For more on Colorado Ethics Watch's top failures of the year, go to


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