Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper Reuters/Rick Wilking

A new video has emerged showing embattled Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper saying that his big donors pressed him to veto pay increases for elected officials, including top law enforcement officers. In comments to the state's sheriffs, Hickenlooper said that when the legislature was considering proposals to raise their pay and his own gubernatorial pay, “part of [the people] who called in to some of my senior staff were these large donors.”

The Democrat Colorado governor went on to more specifically describe those donors, saying, “We got calls from very successful business people saying, ‘Don’t you go near signing something like that in an election year.’” He also added that “we had folks that really care deeply that a businessperson should be our Governor” - the insinuation being that a businessperson should oppose pay increases for public officials.

Hickenlooper has signed legislation to give many state workers pay increases, but the bill to fund increases for elected officials, including sheriffs, did not make it out of Colorado's legislature in 2013.

Watch the clip here:

The video clips, released today by the conservative website Revealing Politics, provide a rare moment of candor about business donors’ influence on public policy and some of those donors’ opposition to public employee pay increases.

Some have alleged that the 2013 bill to raises elected officials' pay was retribution for some sheriffs speaking out against gun control proposals that Colorado’s legislature ultimately passed in 2013. Those measures were passed in the wake of the mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.

In his last year as mayor of Denver, Hickenlooper pushed for big layoffs and budget cuts. That included a push to overturn the police force’s negotiated contract and renege on promised pay increases.

Once considered a rising Democratic Party star and a shoo-in for a second term, Hickenlooper is suddenly locked in a tight reelection battle with financial executive Bob Beauprez (R). He recently made headlines helping the oil and gas industry short-circuit a 2014 ballot measure that would have permitted local communities to regulate hydraulic fracturing in their midst.