May 25 2010, 10:09 AM
7News has run down a hot story about the profligate spending habits of board members for Pinnacol Assurance, the state-staffed worker's compensation company. The news channel has sent a team out to Pebble Beach, California, a small, ritzy resort where three governor-appointed members of Pinnacol were golfing, wining, and dining with their company's top executives and sales staff, "raising new questions of their independence and ethics." Chief Executive Officer Ken Ross mingled with board members who oversee him during a trip that apparently cost tens of thousands of Pinnacol's dollars. Board President Gary Johnson, ethics member Debra Lovejoy, and board member Ryan Hettich each golfed at $495 a round, stayed in rooms that were probably at least $695 a night, partied with cocktails, and then toured wine country in a chartered bus. State Senator Morgan Carroll, an Aurora Democrat who chaired a committee last year that reviewed Pinnacol’s business practices, calls the trip "ridiculous" and "obscene," especially if you consider that "they are stewards of the public money." 7News doesn't have a full tally for the trip and who paid, but clerks say the rooms and golf went on Pinnacol's account. Pinnacol has refused to provide the records under the Colorado Open Records Act, spawning a legal battle with the company that provides workers' compensation insurance to 57 percent of Colorado businesses, according to the Denver Business Journal. The company claims the documents are not public records.