Former Gov. John Hickenlooper speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. (Gage Skidmore, via Creative Commons)

By Nicholas Riccardi, The Associated Press

The Colorado Ethics Commission on Monday voted unanimously to subpoena former Gov. John Hickenlooper, setting up a possible court clash over whether the Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful will have to testify remotely in a long-delayed hearing on a complaint Republicans filed against him.

A group led by the former Republican speaker of the Colorado House last year alleged Hickenlooper violated the state’s ethics law by taking free flights on private jets as governor. Hickenlooper denied the accusations, and a hearing had been scheduled for late March but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hickenlooper last month insisted he give his testimony in person. But the commission is moving ahead with a virtual hearing Thursday, which the former governor argues violates his due process rights.

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After Hickenlooper said last week that he wouldn’t attend, the commission voted 5-0 to subpoena him. The ex-governor’s lawyer warned the commission Monday that he would oppose the subpoena in court.

The hearing comes at an awkward time for Hickenlooper, who just released his first television ad ahead of the Democratic Senate primary on June 30. Hickenlooper is the front-runner in the contest to face Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in November.

“The Republicans behind these attacks are trying to tear down Governor Hickenlooper,” spokeswoman Melissa Miller said in a statement. “He has offered seven times to testify in person and proposed dates to do so in August.”

Republicans argued that Hickenlooper should accept the constraints of the legal system during the pandemic.

“Hickenlooper and his $525/hour taxpayer-funded lawyer spent last week arguing they were entitled to more than what Colorado’s own criminal courts have adapted to,” said Joanna Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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