Archive for the 'Colorado Secretary of State' Category

Does embattled GOP candidate Frazier regret not going through assembly, like Darryl Glenn?

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Denver talk-radio host Craig Silverman challenged GOP U.S. Senate canidate Ryan Frazier’s assertion May 6 that the petition path to the primary ballot is a grassroots route, and Silverman asked, after Frazier was off air, whether donations to Frazier’s campaign would “go directly to Scott Gessler and his legal fees.”

The exchange started with Frazier, who’s waiting for the Colorado Supreme Court to decide whether he’ll qualify for the primary ballot, telling Silverman that the “system is broken and the process [of ballot access] is stuck in the last century.”

Silverman responded by asking if Frazier regretted not going “through the assembly process like Darryl Glenn.”

Frazier (at 1:45): No!  Look, we got over 18,000 people to sign our petitions. You can’t tell me that’s not a grassroots approach.  That’s why we chose to go the petition route, is that we felt it was a grassroots approach to getting out to talk to tenss of thousands of voters.  We’re very, very much committed to the process we took.  But quite frankly, guys, sometimes you don’t realize how flawed the system is until you’re in the middle of it.  And that’s what we’re realizing now.  But here’s what we know –nand it’s not in question, Craig – is that the voters – these are valid Republican voters.  There’s no question about that.  And we believe that they should be counted.  So that’s what we’re fighting for.  And we believe that – or at least, we hope – that a logic will prevail in this case.

Silverman responded by saying, “I don’t understand how that’s grassroots, to pay over $100,000 to get some stranger to hold the petition outside the various courthouses where I go.  ’ve seen the petitioners. It doesn’t feel like I’m meeting Ryan Frazier or really participating on a grassroots level, if I decided to sign that.”

Frazier said he and his team are out there, too, and it’s a grassroots process.

At the end of the show, after Frazier solicited donations from listeners and then departed, Silverman wondered out loud whether Frazier’s donations would go directly to the pocket of Frazier’s lawyer, Scott Gessler, who’s representing Frazier’s cause in the courts.

Frazier (6:36):  I just want to encourage your listeners to go to FrazierForColorado.com. We could use every donation, every contribution some can make — no matter how small – to help us as we fight to fix this broken system….

Silverman: Does that money go directly to Scott Gessler and his legal fees?

Dan Caplis: You know, it’s the nature of the business.

Silverman: I don’t begrudge it! I like lawyers to get paid

Caplis: Yeah. No, the nature. Of. The. Business.

El Paso Country Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former CSU athletic director Jack Graham easily made the Republican primary ballot, while businessman Robert Blaha and former State Rep. Jon Keyser both required a judge to add them to the ballot.

CO Secretary of State, Who Sees “a Lot of Good” in Colorado’s 2013 Election Law, Explains Why He’d Still Oppose It

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Last month, on Rocky Mountain Community Radio, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams praised a Pew study for, as Williams put it, “highlighting some of the improvements and the innovations that we try to look at in Colorado.”

The Pew study gushed about Colorado’s 2013 law, which, among other things, mandated that mail-in ballots be sent to all voters, authorized same-day registration, and shortened the length of residency required for voter registration.

The reforms, according to Pew, reduced election costs by 40 percent, and over 95 percent of voters surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied.

Even though he opposed Colorado’s election-modernization law when it passed in 2013, Williams subsequently praised Colorado’s election reforms, well before the Pew Study was published. For example, he lauded the new voting centers and options in Colorado Springs.  And prior to touting Colorado’s wide use of mail-in ballots at a 2015 conference, he issued a news release saying, “Colorado continues to lead in a host of areas.”

So it was an interesting journalistic moment, after the Pew study came out last month, when Colorado Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland asked Williams if he’d oppose Colorado’s election law again, after seeing how it’s worked.

Yes, Williams said he would oppose it, “Because it didn’t include the kind of give-and-take that we’ve tried to do since I’ve been Secretary of State, which is to sit down with the stakeholders of both sides ahead of time and work things out.”

I wondered if Williams had substantive reasons for his opposition, or if it was just a procedural problem for him. His office provided me with a detailed list of alleged “improvements” made after  the 2013 bill, which was referred to as HB13-1303, passed. A list of  bills that would fix current “issues” was also provided, as well as a list of “additional issues that still need to be addressed.” (See these lists below.)

“HB13-1303 made a number of good changes,” Williams said in a statement,  “but because of the above issues and because it violates Colorado’s Constitution with respect to recall (even with the changes made), I could not support it because of my oath to uphold the Constitution. If introduced today, I would work to fix the above issues through the amendment process—something that was denied in 2013 because of lockstep votes to approve by the controlling party.”

Asked to respond to Williams’ lists, Elena Nunez, Director of Colorado Common Cause, told me via email:

Secretary of State Williams has shown a great willingness to partner with stakeholders on election issues, and we’re proud of the work we’ve done together this year.

Having said that, it is discouraging to hear the Secretary laud Colorado’s election law nationally while trying to roll back the parts of the law that make it such a success. Our approach is innovative because it gives Coloradans convenient options to both register to vote and cast ballots, while creating administrative efficiencies.

…All of his examples of “1303 fixes” in the bipartisan cleanup bill, SB16-142, are election issues that would need to be addressed even if HB13-1303 had never become law.

Here’s is Williams’ statement and list in its entirety.

There have been a number of improvements to the procedures in 1303 since it was originally passed, including

1) 2014 – Requiring individuals to actually live in a district instead of merely having an intent to live as provided in the original bill.
2) 2014 – Eliminating inconsistent residency requirements where voters could only vote on some issues but were precluded from voting on others (there are still inconsistencies with home rule municipality charters)
3) 2014 – Addressing inconsistencies in special districts and expensive requirements for special districts
4) 2016 – Fixing deadlines for VRDs that precluded VRDs from collecting registrations (potential 1st Amendment violation)
5) 2016 – Eliminating violation of federal law (NVRA) by incorrect use of terms and related issues

There are several bills this year to fix issues with 1303 that are pending:
1) Correcting errors in judge requirements
2) Eliminating ability to vote in multiple states
3) Correcting affiliation issues with primaries
4) Adjusting electioneering requirements to match law
5) Correcting requirement that military and other UOCAVA voters have to apply for mail ballot (1-5 are in the bipartisan clean up bill, SB16-142)
6) Allowing counties to use fewer VSPCs based on actual voter usage. Because of this excessive requirement, efficient counties experienced significant cost increases under 1303. ($200,000 in El Paso County)
7) Requiring photo ID for same day registration and voting – USPS said 40 such voters did not exist when they were sent confirmation card
8) [potential late bill] Correcting problems with watcher provisions

There are additional issues that still need to be addressed:
1) Ensuring that rural Coloradans are not denied equal protection because of disparate mail delivery times by providing 24/7 drop boxes (Voter Choice Act)—reference is 2014 Conejos Democratic primary for sheriff
2) Permitting Coloradans to have choice to avoid coercion or undue influence by opting out of receiving mail ballots (Voter Choice Act)
3) Constitutional change needed to prevent recall procedures in 1303 and 2014 fix bill from violating state constitution (replacement candidates constitutionally have until 15 days before the election to file, but bill requires all voters to be mailed ballots ahead of time)
4) Fixing vacancy procedures to coincide with new timelines

HB13-1303 made a number of good changes, but because of the above issues and because it violates Colorado’s Constitution with respect to recall (even with the changes made), I could not support it because of my oath to uphold the Constitution. If introduced today, I would work to fix the above issues through the amendment process—something that was denied in 2013 because of lockstep votes to approve by the controlling party.

Bartels’ blog: Smart PR? A partisan problem? A new kind of journalism?

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

When political reporter Lynn Bartels left The Denver Post last year for a communications job at the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office, it appeared she’d left journalism.

But it turns out, maybe not completely—depending on your definition of journalism.

As the communications director for Colorado Republican SOS Wayne Williams, Bartels is writing a blog with some of the same types of stories that you saw her write at The Post and, before that, at the Rocky Mountain News.

Titles of recent Bartels posts, for example, include: “Senate Republicans embrace the past and future at pre-session fundraiser,” “Back by popular demand! Sarah Moss’ State of the Union bingo!,” “More babies! Colorado politicos celebrate!,” “OnSight Public Affairs’ holiday card is outta site,” “Wayne Williams: Colorado secretary of state and good Samaritan,” “Secretary of State Wayne Williams outlines agency’s goals, achievements at SMART act hearing,” and “Sen. Cory Gardner, ‘our environmentalist,’ addresses CACI.”

Some of this is good PR for Williams and his office. Some of it is human-interest journalism. Some of it is soft political reporting.

Regardless, it’s quickly become part of Denver’s journalism mix, in the era of disappearing reporters and starved political junkies.

And Bartels’ blog comes with a caveat that most other blogging flaks in the world can only dream of, “The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not of the office.”

When she started her new job, Bartels explains, she told her boss, “The Post and the Rocky used to have people assigned to the Secretary of State’s office. And they don’t have that anymore. It’s just part of generic government. Some of this stuff you’re just not going to get promoted, if you don’t promote it yourself.” He signed off on the concept.

But why all the posts that have nothing to do with the SOS office?

“When I started, someone from the Secretary of State’s office said, ‘This is going to be solely about the Secretary of State’s office, isn’t it?’ And I said, ‘No, who would read it?’ And Wayne burst out laughing and said the same thing.”

So for those of you who might hate the idea of Bartels doing Christmas-card stories on the taxpayer dime, she makes a good PR case for it, I’d say. And hey, her blog is featured number one on the list of “costumer favorites” on the Colorado SOS home page.

Bartels blog could possibly be a model for how PR at a state agency could compensate, in an itsy bitsy way, for diminished journalism.

But you run into trouble when a state-sponsored blog is used for partisan purposes. Or even if it’s perceived that way. That’s yuck bad.

Bartels acknowledged the problem with, “If the secretary of state were Scott Gessler, people would be blowing a rod.”

As it is, Bartels says one of her posts was used by a Democratic candidate for fundraising (without Bartels approval or knowledge, she says). A handful mention candidates, giving them a de facto PR boost.

Bartels wrote a partisan-looking post Jan. 12 titled, Senate Republicans embrace the past and future at pre-session fundraiser. This post is basically a GOP fluff piece, going out of its way to name Republican candidates and saying “at times” Senate President Bill Cadman is “pretty close” to being as funny as Bill Murray.

But if you look at her blog, it’s clear Bartels, who says she’s a Republican herself, isn’t blatantly pushing Republicans over Dems (outside of her boss). She’s written favorable posts about Democrats Sen. Kerry Donovan and former Lt. Governor Joe Garcia, for example. Still, I think Bartels should stay away from mentioning candidates, potential candidates, and highly partisan stuff.

As for breaking news, one of Bartels’ tweets broke a story about a GOP candidate entering the governor’s race. One blog post broke news about the death of a well-liked Republican consultant.

“If I wanted to break political news on that blog, I could break it a lot. It’s not my goal,” she says, adding she’s too busy anyway. “I could have broken the Jon Keyser story, but I didn’t.”

“I’ve used the blog to promote our office, to promote county clerks, to promote things that we’re doing,” Bartels says, adding that the blogging results in long hours for her. “The county clerks love it.”

“If groups invite Wayne to speak, I’ll write something,” she said. (But I’m guessing fewer Democrats than Republicans will want to hear Williams.)

It makes you wonder, are PR folk pitching stories to Bartels, like they did when she was at The Post?

Not really, she tells me, sounding a little vague.

“Hey, I’ve got to take this call,” Bartels said, ending our conversation. Some things never change.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that a Republican used Bartels’ blog post for fundraising purposes. It was actually a Democrat, according to Bartels. 

Post covered wrong court decision last week

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

I’m late getting to this, but The Denver Post made the wrong decision Thursday in covering a Court of Appeals decision in favor of conservatives on the Douglas County School Board–while ignoring a Court of Appeals decision against former GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler on the same day.

The Gessler decision, which was unanimous, affirmed that one of the state’s highest elected officials used his position (and our money) for personal and political gain. That’s about as serious a ruling as you get in our representative government.

In a split decision with a stinging dissent, the Court of Appeals also ruled that the Douglas Country School Board did not violate Colorado election law by emailing a report, favoring conservative education policies, to 85,000 subscribers prior to the November election.

I don’t see The Post’s logic in prioritizing a not-guilty verdict in a school board matter over a serious decision against Colorado’s Secretary of State. You can argue that both deserved coverage, but if you pick one, Gessler wins (for once).

Luckily, the Colorado Independent, a progressive news outlet, covered the Gessler decision here, linking to the entertaining text of the ruling here.

On radio, Secretary of State should have been challenged when he implied that getting an ID for voting is easy

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Back in January, Colorado’s new Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, suggested that people who register and vote on Election Day should present a “Department-of-Revenue-issued ID.”

Williams made it sound like this would be a snap for voters: “And it’s important to note that in Colorado, ID’s are free, to anyone who’s indigent. Anyone who’s poor, anyone who’s elderly can get a free ID,” Williams told Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner Jan. 11.

Technically, that’s true. But in reality, especially if you’re old or indigent, getting an ID is often neither easy nor free. With the Colorado state legislature debating a bill today requiring IDs for Election-Day registration, now is a good time for Warner to air some of the facts that run counter to Williams’ simple view.

The core problem is that, while an ID itself is free, through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the underlying documentation required to get an ID can be expensive to obtain and time-consuming to assemble.

From reading Colorado’s law mandating free IDs for those over 64-years and the indigent, you might think all you have to do is trot over to your county human services department, pick up the required forms, and then get hooked up with your free ID from DMV.

Not really. At Denver Human Services, you can get a coupon for a free ID if you declare that you are homeless, and therefore entitled to a $10.50 fee waver. But if you don’t have citizenship documents, you have to go to a nonprofit “partner” organization for help, according to Julie Smith, Communications Director at Denver Human Services.

“We recognize that this is a challenge to navigate, especially if you have to obtain a birth certificate,” said Smith, adding that transportation alone is a “big challenge” for people who are homeless.

Metro CareRing is one of Denver Human Service’s partner organizations that helps poor people get their citizenship documents together–at no charge.

“I often refer to our staff person who works on this as, affectionately, a ‘detective’ because people come to us sometimes not even knowing their birth place or all of their birth circumstances,” said Lynne Butler, Executive Director of Metro CareRing, echoing others in the field in Denver. “They might say, they think their mother was incarcerated in the state of New Jersey. Our staff person will begin from a place like that and spend a great deal of time and investigation finding the material and ordering the proper identification documents that come from the state for that birth certificate. So it’s a paper-trail process, and expensive.”

But funding the project now, even without more people potentially requiring IDs for  voting, is thin.

“We’ve had to turn away people,” said Butler, who says her organization provides more documents for the poor than any other  nonprofit in Colorado. “And to think that we might have more people in need of documents now because of [voting requirements] is an alarming thought.”

“Right now, we’re struggling to find the funding that we need,” says Butler. “We had to cut back recently, because some of our funding, in fact our major funder, cut back.” Butler says a “Collaborative ID Project,” with Denver Human Services, Colorado Legal Services, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, and Metro CareRing, work together.

The IDs poor people obtain with the help of nonprofits like Metro CareRing serve many purposes, Butler points out, reflecting the widespread belief that getting an ID is a critical part of anti-poverty efforts, even it’s difficult to get IDs. You need an ID to pick up mail, to rent an apartment, get Medicaid and other public benefits, to open a bank account, to get a job, to see a doctor or get medicine from a pharmacist.  Sometimes you can work around the ID requirements, but people like Butler say an ID is a necessity of life.

And she hopes somehow, someday everybody will have an ID.

But as of today, that’s nowhere near the case. And the resources aren’t there to change that reality any time soon, as the government agencies, including DMV itself, and nonprofits that help poor people get IDs are at or near capacity.

And the number of people with no IDs appears to be in the staggering range–especially when viewed from the comfortable perspective of those who have little or no contact with indigent or poor people.

Last year, in a review of studies on voter-identification issues, the Government Accountability Office found that between 5 and 16 percent of registered voters do not have photo identification. That’s registered voters, potentially hundreds of thousands or more of them among Colorado’s 3.5 million registered voters. Colorado voters must show show a photo ID when they register to vote, if they have one, so Colorado may have fewer registered voters without IDs than other states, but we don’t know for sure.

Still, you’d have to think the percentage of unregistered voters (over a half million in Colorado) without IDs would be higher, potentially in the tens of thousands.

The Department of Motor Vehicles issued a total of 23,458 free ID cards in 2014, with nearly 18,000 of those going to people over 64, according to data supplied by the Department of Motor Vehicles. About 2,000 were distributed at no charge to a holder of a county coupon, most likely indicating homeless or indigent status. Another 1,800 were issued at no cost to the Department of Corrections.

So when you explore the world of getting identification cards for the poor, what you find out is that it’s a huge problem without a simple fix, especially with current resources. A Loyola University study found that while some votes would be voided by a photo ID, tens of thousands of people without IDs would be disenfranchised. This confirms a Brennan Center for Justice study citing research that voter-identification “laws disproportionately harm minorities, low-income individuals, seniors, students, and people with disabilities.”

Here in Colorado, if a law passed requiring a person to have an ID to register to vote on Election Day, it would clearly be impossible for some people to get an ID card, if they decided to vote on Election Day itself. And it might be impossible even if they planned months in advance or longer.

So, when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams hits the media circuit and implies it’s easy for poor people to get an ID, reporters should be sure to offer up the other side, invisible as it is to most of us.

Media omission: Gessler says only he has the “guts” to fight rampant corruption in CO government

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

During a radio interview Saturday, Secretary of State Scott Gessler framed his gubernatorial campaign as a battle to save Colorado from the rot of corruption, saying our “state government is corrupt,” and he’s the only candidate who’s had “the guts to stand up and say, ‘No more.’”

“I’ve had the guts to stand up and say, ‘I’m not going to tolerate this; I’m going to fight back,’” Gessler told KNUS radio-host Jimmy Sengenberger, citing his clashes with Democrats over his budget and ethics issues. “And no one else wants to because they’re afraid. They’re afraid that if a Republican gets criticized they can no longer win elections. And let me ask you, Jimmy, how has that worked out for us over the last ten years?”

“We are a party that needs to be bold,” replied Sengenberger, whose show airs Saturdays 5 – 8 p.m. on KNUS. “I agree with you there–”

“I am the only guy who’s being bold on this stuff and what happens?” Gessler continued. “We have these fearful, weak-kneed, timid Republicans who are more interested in scoring political points against me than standing up for principle and saying, ‘You know what? We have corruption in this state.’”

“Republicans need to stand up and understand that we have a corrupt state government.  They shouldn’t buy into the corruption,” he said.

During the interview, Gessler criticized members of the Independent Ethics Commission and called it “corrupt.”

In June, the Independent Ethics Commission ruled that Gessler violated the public trust by using public money to attend a Republican political event. On the radio, Gessler was incensed by this decision as well as the Commission’s dismissal last month of a complaint against Gov. John Hickenlooper

Gessler said at one point, referring to the Commission, “Let me tell you, Jimmy, this is a corrupt, corrupt government. And I will say ‘corrupt’ again.”

Comparing the corruption he says he saw as a young man in Bosnia and Chicago to what he sees in Colorado today, Gesser said, “Where people no longer respect the law, we lose the foundation of our western civilization here. And we’re facing that in Colorado.”

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/colorado-secretary-of-state-scott-gessler-says-colorado-is-corrupt

Gessler’s talk-radio salvo conflicts with his own office’s election rule that you have to live in a district in order to vote there

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Back in August, Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office issued an election rule stating that voters must reside in the same district in which they vote, and, in case someone like Jon Caldara was wondering, Gessler’s rule stated that “intent to move, in and of itself, does not establish residence.”

This sounded sensible to people who believe in representative government.

But about a week later, the residency rule was rescinded by Gessler’s office for no apparent reason. It was part of a set of election rules, one of which was thrown out by a judge, but Gessler wasn’t required to dump the residency rule. But he did anyway.

About a month later, people who believe in representative government were surprised when Gessler stepped up to a talk-show microphone on KNUS radio and proclaimed that under Colorado’s new election law, “you don’t have to live in the district in order to be able to vote there, which I think is just absurd.”

Now, even people who don’t believe in representative government were puzzled, because in August Gessler’s office had arrived at the exact opposite conclusion about the new law.

The eternal question: What would Gessler say next?

Well, on Oct. 9, the residency rule was re-issued by Gessler’s office in almost the exact same words as before, stating that “intent to move to a new district or county, in and of itself, is not enough to establish residency.”

The rule also says: “An elector may not register to vote in a new district or county unless he or she has already moved and established his or her primary residence in the new district or county.”

Just like before, this makes sense to most everyone, except maybe Jon Caldara and…we don’t know if Gessler’s on board with it, even though it emanated from his office.

Will Gessler again be asked to step up to a talk-radio microphone and explain if he still thinks, like he said before, that Colorado’s new election law mandates that “you don’t have to live in the district in order to be able to vote there?”

How could he possibly think so, now that his office has twice concluded otherwise? I’ll be sitting by my radio, waiting for his answer on KOA, KNUS, KLZ, or wherever.

Actually, wouldn’t it be fun if Jon Caldara asked Gessler about it on his Sunday KHOW show?

For the sake of civic order, journos should correct Gessler’s misinformation that you can vote anywhere you want

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler told KNUS talk-radio host Steve Kelley yesterday: “Now, apparently, you don’t have to live in the district in order to be able to vote there, which I think is just absurd.”

Listen to Gessler on KNUS radio 9-18-13

Gessler’s comment to Kelley contradicts voting rules issued by Gessler’s own office in August. On the subject of residency requirements, Gessler’s rule (32.7.3.D) stated that voters must, in fact, reside in the district in which they vote.

Among other things, the rule stated that “intent to move, in and of itself, does not establish residence.”

AN ELECTOR MUST ESTABLISH A RESIDENCE BEFORE REGISTERING TO VOTE OR CHANGING HIS OR HER RESIDENCE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 1-2-102, C.R.S. AN ELECTOR’S RESIDENCE IS HIS OR HER PRIMARY HOME TO WHICH HE OR SHE, WHENEVER ABSENT, HAS THE PRESENT INTENT OF RETURNING. AN ELECTOR ESTABLISHES A RESIDENCE EITHER BY MAINTAINING A RESIDENCE AS HIS OR HER PRIMARY HOME OR BY PHYSICALLY MOVING TO A NEW RESIDENCE WITH THE INTENT TO MAINTAIN THAT RESIDENCE AS A PRIMARY HOME. INTENT TO MOVE, IN AND OF ITSELF, DOES NOT ESTABLISH RESIDENCE….

This residency rule was part of a set of election guidelines that also included a measure, later thrown out by a judge, that would have made it harder for military families and students to vote.

Rather than just rescind the portion rejected by the courts, Gessler’s office struck all of the guidelines in the rule, including the portion on residency requirements. So the SOS’ residency guidelines are now off the books. Still, it’s the last word we’d gotten from Gessler’s office on the residency topic, and it contradicts what Gessler told Kelley yesterday.

And, re-focusing on the bigger picture, it’s Alice-and-Wonderland logic to assert that Colorado’s new election law allows you to vote anywhere you want in the entire state, regardless of where you live. And it’s Mad Hatter-like for Secretary of State to say this, especially when his office contradicted him a couple months ago.

In a conversation with The Colorado Independent’s Mike Littwin Tuesday, Gessler hinted that he knows deep down that you’re required to vote where you reside. Gessler seemed to praise Jon Caldara for “staying in El Paso” after he voted there as part of a media stunt that’s gotten Caldara in legal trouble. But as Littwin pointed out, Caldara has announced that he will continue to reside in Boulder.

But the day after he talked to Littwin, Gessler stepped up his rhetoric, saying on the radio if “you say you intend to live there then I guess that’s good enough.” Then he went into full attack mode on the election law, forgetting that it was promoted by a bipartisan group of county clerks from across the state:

Gessler: But it just goes to show that the pull behind this bill really didn’t care about fairness. They didn’t care about listening to any other opinions except their own. They didn’t care about anything except, in my view a ruthless partisan power play. And that’s what they did. And when they froze everyone out, anyone who might disagree with them, they froze them out and refused to even talk to them about it. It shows you they were up to something, and you see the result. Apparently, you don’t have to live in the district anymore to be able to vote there. And that’s absurd.

What’s really absurd would be if Gessler’s comments go uncorrected in Denver media circles.

Boyles should find out why Gessler agrees that Hick delayed Dunlap execution because of what would be said at NYC fundraisers

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Appearing on KNUS’ Peter Boyles show yesterday, Scott Gessler lit into top Colorado Democrats, saying he thinks Senate President John Morse said “stuff like, people who own guns are a mental sickness.”

Gessler also agreed with Boyles, when he said Gov. Hick delayed the killing of murderer Nathan Dunlap because Hick couldn’t have gone to NYC “cocktail parties and fundraisers” because people would have said, “‘That’s the governor that executed the black man.’”

“That’s right,” Gessler responded to Boyles baseless characterization of Hick’s Dunlap decision.

Listen to Scott Gessler on KNUS 710 AM Peter Boyles 7-16-12

I’m sure Boyles, given his former place of honor in Denver journalism circles, would like to know Morse did not say gun owners are a mental sickness.

When the  Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara misquoted Morse on the “mental illness” line, I pointed out that there’s no way you can construe Morse’s  reference to a Martin Luther King speech as an attack on gun owners. ColoradoPols made the same point.

So, Pete, you owe it to decency to correct Gessler on air.

Boyles should also give Gessler air time to clarify why he believes Hick gave Dunlap a reprieve because he was worried about what would be said at New York cocktail parties and fundraisers.

I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be interested in hearing more detail on that one.

Boyles said he’d be having Gessler on his show repeatedly, so he’ll have plenty of chances to get into it with Gessler on this.

Here’s the relevant portion of Gessler’s appearance on KNUS’ Peter Boyles’ show July 16. Listen to Scott Gessler on KNUS 710 AM Peter Boyles 7-16-12

Boyles: They are the recall targets simply for their grab on the Second Amendment. Make some of that clear, please, if you would, Scott.

Gessler (@ 5 min 15 sec in linked audio above):  Sure. So John Morse is the president of the State Senate. And I think he said stuff like, people who own guns are a mental sickness.

Boyles: Yep. Yep.

Gessler: Something along those lines. Really rough stuff. And then Angela Giron, she hails from a pretty democratic district in Pueblo. But it’s pretty conservative. And I think people there still value their Second Amendment rights in that life. And so people decided to recall her as well. And so they are very contentious. I think they are the first recalls of Colorado legislators in Colorado’s history. We’ve had lots of recalls for other offices….

Boyles (@ 9 min 45 sec in linked audio above): I don’t believe he could have shown up in New York City—it’s almost like a Tom Wolfe Mau-Mauing the flak catchers. He couldn’t have walked into their cocktail parties and fundraisers and somebody say, ‘That’s the governor that executed the black man.’ He couldn’t have done it.

Gessler:  That’s right.

Media omission: Gessler’s first direct response to Ethics Commission ruling

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Reporters apparently missed Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s first direct response to the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission’s finding that he violated state ethics law and “breeched the public trust for private gain.”

Gessler made his comments on KNUS’ Kelley and Company (710-AM) this morning, and reporters should have tuned in. So I’ll fill in the media gap and provide a transcript of most of his comments below. And I’ll update this post with audio of the interview later today.

Guest host Jimmy Sengenberger, filling in for regular host Steve Kelley, did a decent job interviewing Gessler.

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Sengenberger: What’s your side of the story?

Gessler: …The Elections Commission, unfortunately, is a just very partisan-driven organization. I mean, two of the members have actually contributed to Hickenlooper, sort of really staunch partisan Democrats. It was pretty clear seven months ago which direction these guys were going. It took them eight months to figure out how to do it. But it was really sort of an unfair process, and it’s frustrating, because you want to think that these guys are going to be fair and even-handed and you want to think that the IRS is going to be fair and even-handed, and you want to think that, you know, things work. But they really don’t a lot of the time. So we are going to be appealing. I’m pretty confident that we’re going to get it overturned because of the way these guys handled themselves.

Sengenberger: I’m curious as to what the Independent Ethics Commission claimed you violated in terms of a statute, rule, or anything in the Constitution that might be in play?

Gessler: Right now I just don’t know. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I mean they had deliberations and they said learning about elections is not official business, which just sort of seems crazy when everyone else disagrees with them.  And that was one of the most frustrating things. We spent seven months trying to get them to tell us what the legal standards were. And then a month ago they said the legal standards could be one of these two things or they could be something else, and we’ll tell you afterwards. And so we still don’t know. So, I mean, maybe when the draw up the report they’ll sort of tell me at that point. But that’s one of the frustrating areas. They just sort of make up the rules as they go along.

Sengenberger: …What do you make of the argument that, well, that you shouldn’t have done it, used discretionary funds, taxpayer money, for something that had a partisan tilt to it?

Gessler: Well, it didn’t have a partisan tilt. That’s the bottom line….We produced a three-hundred-page binder of all the materials that were discussed. None of it was partisan stuff…. I know it had the word Republican in front of it, that was the sponsoring organization, but it was not a partisan event. It was straight-up education. And all the evidence before the commission said that. But they are not really interested in the evidence before them. It was a very partisan-driven outlook.

Sengenberger: …I’m curious as to why you ended up paying back the twelve-hundred-something that you chose to pay back?

Gessler: $1278. Here’s why. I’m just trying to move on when it comes to what goes on with the people of the state of Colorado. But, the money here has been an absolute waste. The last Republican Secretary of State we had, Mike Coffman, also received a complaint from the same organization in front of the same ethics commission. And that cost probably about probably $100,000 to dispute. So these types of frivolous things have cost the state around a quarter million dollars already. And it is just sort of absurd. And you want to put it behind you. You want to have fair elections. You want to move on to trying to make it easier for people to do business and have jobs in the state of Colorado and things like that. I’m trying to put it behind me. I’m trying to push forward. And of course it’s a very vindictive organization and they’re not interested in that–the ethics commission. So that was the purpose. And I was very clear. Look, I don’t think we’ve done anything wrong. I don’t think we’ve ever done anything wrong. But $1,278 is a pretty big distraction when there’s been hundreds of thousands spent arguing over it. Let’s try to put it behind us. Let’s try to move forward. But, you know, even that’s not acceptable because the Ethics Watch organization—no I’m sorry—Ethics Commission. They all sort of blend together after a while.

Sengenbrenner: Yeah.

Gessler: They’re not really interested in that. They’re interested in progressive [inaudible] because they know there’s an election coming up. So they can use this as a way to generate television ads and what not. I mean, that’s really what it’s about. So it’s very frustrating.

Sengenberger: [The left is saying you should have used funds from the travel budget, not the discretionary budget.]

Gessler: They are really sort of nonsensical. I mean, they’re saying I should have used a different fund rather than this fund to go. But it was ok, but if it wasn’t ok, then I shouldn’t have done it. It’s absolutely nonsensical. What it is is a talking point. A talking point. There’s no sense or coherence. Bottom line. Everybody who’s reviewed this, except of course the Ethics Commission, the Colorado Supreme Court, an outside auditor, the State Comptroller, said this was absolutely appropriate for me to do. That’s the bottom line. The left can jabber all they want, and, of course, the Ethics Commission is part of the left. I mean they are driven by my political adversaries.  I mean those are the people who judged me on this. They can jabber all they want. We now go before a real court, the district court and federal courts here. We’re going before a real court with real-world procedure. And this is just a stop on the way going forward, because, look, if you believe in this. You shouldn’t have a government agency that’s politically driven that chews people up. We’ve seen that at the IRS. We’ve seen that with the Ethics Commission. Look at it from that standpoint. I’m not going to stand for it.