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GOP complaint targets Polis’ investment in medical tourism

Author: Joey Bunch - October 10, 2018 - Updated: October 11, 2018

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PolisHouse Education and Workforce Committee member Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., speaks on Capitol Hill on Nov. 18, 2015, as House and Senate negotiators tried to resolve competing versions of a rewrite to the No Child Left Behind education law. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A Republican allegation that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis invested in a company benefited by his work as a congressman is now a formal complaint.

Former Secretary of State Gessler, a GOP candidate for governor in 2014, filed the complaint Tuesday with the Secretary of State’s Office on behalf of Kristina Cook, a Denver County Republican Party official and conservative radio personality.

She and Gessler allege that Polis failed to disclose in his official paperwork that he had invested between $5 million and $25 million in BridgeHealth Medical Inc.

“This failure to report his interest in BridgeHealth is not a mere oversight,” the complaint states. “Polis
has been extensively involved in BridgeHealth. By his admission, he co-founded the company, and he loaned the company money nearly every three months for at least five years.”

BridgeHealth hoped to benefit from Americans going abroad for health care to avoid higher insurance premiums. The complaint alleges that trade benefitted from passage of the Affordable Care Act. Polis helped pass the ACA as a Democratic member of Congress.

“Polis’ failure to report his interest in BridgeHealth is particularly notable, because the health care policies advocated by Polis as a candidate may very well benefit BridgeHealth, and thus increase Polis’ personal fortune.”

The Secretary of State’s Office has 10 days to review the complaint and, if anything’s wrong, offer Polis five days to correct his filing, if necessary. Failing that, an administrative law judge would have 15 days to hold a hearing on the merits of the complaint, which could drive the issue close to the Nov. 6 election.

Ultimately, the complaint requests “his name be struck as a candidate for governor.”

Cook told Colorado Politics her timing wasn’t calculated, but it was what was needed to gather and verify research and write and file the formal complaint.

“I’m about transparency, and there’s a reason these laws are in place,” she said Wednesday.

Polis has itemized the investment in congressional disclosures, but the state doesn’t ask for the same level of detail, his defenders on the allegation have asserted. Whether the company benefitted from the Affordable Care Act also is a matter that hasn’t been proven.

Polis’ ties to the company have been publicly known since 2008, when the company started and the same year he was elected to Congress. They were questioned by conservatives again in 2012.

The Polis campaign did not engage in the substance of the claim Wednesday.

“Our campaign has yet to receive any formal notice of a complaint from the Secretary of State’s office,” Polis for Colorado spokesperson Mara Sheldon said in a tweet. “When we do, we will review it at that time.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.