Post had no intention of publishing Gessler’s list of possible illegal voters, as Gessler claimed

I reported Saturday that Secretary of State Scott Gessler was on the Mike Rosen Show April 8, and he had some harsh things to say about The Denver Post.

Asked by Rosen about The Post’s request to review Gessler’s list of 4,947 people who could possibly have voted illegally in recent years, as well as the 106 people Gessler believes are likely to be actual illegal voters, Gessler said:

“It’s just crazy to publish people’s names. I mean, I can’t even believe The Denver Post even asked for that. I mean, they want to get the names of these people and then start calling them. I don’t know if they want to post them on their website and publish the names as well. If you have someone who’s suspected of being a noncitizen and improperly voting, the last thing you do is immediately publish their name publicly and try to embarrass and humiliate them. I’m not in that type of business. I’m just amazed, and it’s not just The Denver Post, I mean, the Huffington Post as well, and I think there’s another newspaper too, and they wanted names of people so they could start calling them and publishing their names.”

I speculated Saturday that Gessler had apparently assumed The Post planned to publish these names. But maybe that’s what The Post told his office?

I mean, I was pretty sure The Post wouldn’t want to mindlessly embarrass and humiliate people. But I thought I’d check.

So I emailed Nancy Lofholm, the Post reporter who wrote that she asked Gessler’s spokesperson for his lists of names.

She sent me a response from her editor, Chuck Murphy:

“Thanks for the opportunity to respond. At no time did we ever even contemplate simply publishing a list of names. We are interested solely in reporting on whether these individuals are former green card holders who have since become citizens and lawful voters, as immigrant rights advocates surmise, or unlawful voters as Secretary Gessler has implied to both the US Congress and the Colorado General Assembly.

Had Secretary Gessler or his staff ever asked whether we intended to publish all the names with no effort at verification of citizenship status, I would have happily told them no.”

Lofholm wrote:

“We wanted to find proof that there are illegal voters in Colorado – or proof that Gessler’s fears about these voters are unfounded. We thought that next step should be taken given that proposed legislation hinges on numbers that thus far have not been corroborated by looking at individual cases.”

So it turns out, as you probably suspected, that all The Post was trying to do was get the facts are on the table, so lawmakers and the rest of us could make informed decisions about what should be done.

As it is, not even Gessler is willing to say definitively that a single person on his long list voted illegally. If The Post could review Gessler’s lists and dispose of even a tiny bit of the pervasive uncertainty that’s underlying Gessler’s numbers, it would just be doing its job, helping clarify the debate, which you’d think would please Secretary Gessler.

Follow Jason Salzman on Twitter @bigmediablog

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