On the same day Governor John Hickenlooper appointed four new members to the state's oil and gas commission, controversy arises over concerns about one man and why he was selected.
Three months ago, Perry Pearce applied for a spot on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Friday, he was appointed by the governor. But, just last month he donated the maximum amount of money he could to Hickenlooper's campaign.
Now, some think he paid for his spot on the board.
Announcing replacements for the COGCC has been referred to by some as one of the governor's most important announcements since taking office earlier this year. It's a move meant to promote diversity and collaboration by changing the face of the Colorado oil and gas industry.
"We want to cut red tape and help the industry be successful, but we also want to hold them to high standards," Gov. Hickenlooper said after a stop at a Grand Junction aerospace manufacturer on Friday.
Four new members - Tommy Holton, John Benton, Andrew Spielman, and Perry Pearce - replace four outgoing members - Michael Dowling, Mark Cutright, Joshue Epel, and Tresi Houpt. Each have been appointed to four year terms pending State Senate confirmation. Two people - Tom Compton and Richard Alward - were retained from the previous board. They join Deanne Craig, Mike King, and Chris Urbina who are already serving.
But, one of the new members, Perry Pearce of Denver, stands out amongst the rest.
"He is a very talented person with great leadership skills," Gov. Hickenlooper remarked.
"I hope I help the agency and the state of Colorado and the citizens, as well as the oil and gas industry," Pearce said during a telephone interview.
Pearce has decades of experience in oil and gas and currently works for Conoco Phillips/ Burlington Resources in the Governmental Affairs division. Hickenlooper says that experience is one of the reasons he selected Pearce to join the board.
But, suspicions surfaced after his 'poorly-timed' donation to the Hickenlooper campaign. "As far as i know, that had absolutely nothing to do with that selection and I certainly hope it didn't," Pearce explained. "I didn't intend it to."
After catching up with the governor at a Grand Junction event, we were able to ask him about the development. "Someone just told me that about 20 minutes ago, I was completely ignorant of that," he expressed.
According to the Secretary of State's logs of contributions to campaigns, on June 20, Pearce donated $1,100 - the maximum personal donation allowed per election - to Hickenlooper's efforts. The contribution comes two months after he sent his application in and one month before his appointment.
A viewer who emailed us is concerned about it being a bribe or a price to pay for the appointment. But, both men deny it.
"I've donated to Hickenlooper before, even other candidates in the past," Pearce said. "There are probably hundreds of thousands of people in the state of Colorado who contributed to the governor who didn't get this kind of appointment."
Hickenlooper continued denying any knowledge of the late-June donation. "If we paid attention to that, I would've taken him off of the list just to remove even the appearance of impropriety."
With the process still unfolding, Pearce is hoping to be confirmed relatively soon. Gov. Hickenlooper says he will continue to support him. "You guys have to put up with people saying 'Oh, he paid to play.' All I can assure you is that nothing could be further from the truth."
Pearce's appointment falls within all other legal requirements including party affiliation and expertise qualifications.
We spoke to representatives with the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association who say they have no problem with the appointments and are pleased with the diversity. They also say that they are happy to leave the past and look forward to moving on with a new board.