A few weeks ago a friend of mine, Andrew Hartman, was among the final three candidates nominated to be appointed as a district judge here in Colorado. The final decision among the three candidates was to be made by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

I sent out a note to the 6 most connected people in Colorado that I knew, who had some connection to our Governor. While I personalized each note, I tried to keep my “ask” short:

“My friend Andrew Hartman (LinkedIn) is one of the three finalists to replace retiring Boulder District Judge Roxanne Bailin. Two of the finalists have typical judicial backgrounds in District Attorney’s or State Attorney General’s Offices. Apparently Governor Hickenlooper will appoint one of these candidates soon.  Andy is a different kind of candidate. He was a partner at Cooley for about 10 years. He’s currently running his own business law firm, while adjunct teaching at CU Boulder’s Law School where he also runs the Experiential Learning Program.

 I didn’t know this before, but apparently 60% of cases are commercial disputes, with only about 20% of cases being criminal in nature. Andy believes that more judges with commercial and business expertise are desperately needed. He is eager to serve Boulder and Colorado in this role. He’s asked me and others to help reach out to the governor’s office. I’d like to support Andy and hope that you will also. If you know anyone of importance at the governor’s office, I hope you will be willing to reach out if you are not already supporting another candidate.  

As you might expect, four of the six said nothing. One offered to help but thought his/her influence would perhaps be minimal. One took my breath away with his/her integrity (clearly still thinking about it). He/she wrote

“Andrew sounds like a terrific candidate. However, I never, ever give any one a recommendation that I haven’t known personally and worked with for some time.

Sorry I can’t help. Again, he sounds like a great candidate, and I wish him luck.”

Simply awesome. And in some ways it is what I expected from all six, unless one of them had met or worked with Andy previously. I don’t think my mini-campaign was useful for Andy but it got me thinking. How far do you trust a referral? How about a second degree referral? Conflicting first degree referrals from people you respect? Where do you stake your reputation? Your integrity? I was grateful for this answer. Gracious, and yet, a very firm “no”! At the end of the day I think that all we are left with is our integrity and our reputations. In that regard, this script is a great one. How do you handle these kinds of requests?

As a side note to this story – Andy was appointed as the next Boulder District Judge by Colorado’s governor.