Archive for the 'Colorado Secretary of State' Category

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.

Click Here for Audio

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.

Journalists should note smoke coming from Gessler’s pants, if he runs for governor

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

If you’re a reporter, and you’ve been covering Secretary of State Scott Gessler, it’s been a tough few years, because he plays so fast and so loose with the facts.

That’s an accurate assessment, based on Gessler’s record of distorting basic voter information (Voter Fraud! Illegal Voters!), and has nothing to do with his policy positions.  If you’re a fair-minded person, you’d agree that Gessler is slippery.

So I pity the poor reporters assigned to chase Gessler around on the campaign trail, if he runs for governor, because I can only imagine the pitfalls they’ll hit as they try to fact-check the would-be Governor Honey Badger.

You can see it coming, as Gessler contemplates his gubernatorial run.

On KNUS’ Kelley and Company, for example, May 24, Gessler said that one of his major considerations, as he considers whether to run for governor, is to assess what’s left for him to accomplish as Secretary of State.

Gessler: “What have I done at the Secretary of State’s Office? What else is there left to do? Have we been able to accomplish a lot of what we wanted? To a large extent the answer there is yes.”

Gessler’s first goal as Secretary of State, you recall, was to moonlight for his former law firm, so he could make more money. He failed there, after it became obvious that no one would tolerate such brazen conflict-of-interest by the Secretary of State, of all people.

He filed a slew of lawsuits, including a big one to stop ballots from being sent to registered voters who missed just one election, and guess what? He lost most of his lawsuits at god-knows-what public expense, pissing off judges along the way.

He made several unsuccessful attempts to change campaign finance rules. Chief among them was his effort, which was ruled unconstitutional, to raise the threshold from $200 to $5,000 for an issue committee to report contributions and expenditures. He also tried to change the definition of a 527 committee so that most or all of them would not be required to report financial information.

He tried and failed to get a law through the state legislature giving him legal authority to purge voters. In the process, he unintentionally proved, to the few who might have wondered, that there is no significant problem with noncitizen voting in Colorado.

In a 9News YourShow debate prior to being elected, when listing goals as SOS, Gessler referred first to his plan to institute photo identification in Colorado. Failed there.

Next from Gessler’s lips on YourShow was his opposition to same-day voter registration, which is now law.

Gessler says on KNUS that his “record of achievement” includes a successful 2012 election and better services for Colorado business.

Even giving him this, which was arguably forced on him, you’d have to give Gessler a “pants-on-fire” rating for saying “to a large extent” he’s accomplished what he set out to do as Secretary of State.

If he enters the race, you hope journalists will report the smoke coming from Gessler’s pants–and that the fumes won’t choke the other candidates, like Tom Tancredo and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Post deserves credit for running op-ed, by a Democrat and a Republican, in support of election bill

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

I was glad to see an op-ed in The Denver Post this morning supporting the election-modernization bill winding its way toward Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office.

You recall The Post came out with a shallow editorial last week in favor of most of the bill, but arguing that officials should consider waiting “years” before implementing  election-day registration because it’s so dreadfully complicated for the 21st Century human mind to assemble the necessary technology.

But the Post failed to mention that Colorado’s country clerks are already, in effect, registering people on Election Day with existing technology, which can be used in the 2012 and 2013 elections. And the clerks’ experts say this technology can be upgraded for elections beginning in 2014.

You hate to see a newspaper siding with exclusion, when it comes to elections, based on flimsy evidence, because journalism is supposed to stand for giving everyone a voice. The newspaper should have gone the extra mile to do its homework on the election bill.

So it was a relief to see that The Post gave a Republican, Donetta Davidson (who’s the Director of the CO County Clerks Association), and a Democrat, Joan Fitz-Gerald (former State Senate President), space today to argue for the bill in its entirety. They wrote:

If you’re reading this, you likely voted by mail last November, and you’re in good company: Seventy-two percent of Colorado voters joined you. Mail ballots are a convenient, secure and private way to cast a ballot that is increasingly popular among Colorado voters.

HB 1303 answers the demand of these voters while providing ample options for voters who prefer to vote in person. It eliminates the “inactive-failed-to-vote” status that created confusion for voters. It creates a graduated registration system that scales down the demand on the system as Election Day approaches…

As former county clerks, we both understand the pragmatic, non-political approach to maintaining the public trust in elections. Technology has caught up with the needs of voters and taxpayers. The Voter Access & Modernized Elections Act will mean more people can take advantage of their right to vote, our local governments will save money and we all win.

This publication of this piece again shows the newspaper’s commitment to engaging in a full discussion of issues on its commentary page.

Gloria Neal Show on AM760 offers alternative to the misinformation about the election bill on conservative talk radio

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

If you’ve been listening to conservative talk radio lately, you know most radio hosts on these shows don’t like the election-modernization bill working its way through the Legislature.

Though it might be hard to tear yourself away from Steve Kelley on 710 KNUS in the morning, you might give yourself a break and try Gloria Neal on AM 760. That’s “Colorado’s Progressive Talk,” which used to be hosted by author David Sirota.

Neal had a great conversation last week with Ellen Dumm, who’s a spokesperson in favor of the bill. It’s a great interview as she counters most of the misinformation you hear about the bill on the radio, like the lie it’s nothing more than a partisan trick by Democrats. (It’s been endorsed by 75% of the Colorado County Clerks Association, which includes Republicans.)

Lost in all the attacks is the history of how the bill came forward (from the Clerks) and why (to eliminate the confusion among some voters about how to vote as well as to make voting– and voter registration — more convenient for the rest of us, as well as less expensive for our government, while making sure our elections are secure.)

“What is does is very simple. It gets a ballot to every eligible voter, and they can choose to either vote by mail, which three-fourth of Colorado did in 2012. Or they can drop it off. Or they can vote in person. It’s their choice. We always say, it’s their choice and it’s their voice.”

Listen to Neal’s thoughtful interview here.

Post editorial provides insufficient evidence that timeline for implementation of election-day registration is too short

Friday, April 19th, 2013

In an editorial yesterday, The Denver Post praised all the provisions of the election-modernization bill that just passed the State House, but the newspaper questioned the timeline on the implementation of election-day voter registration.

The Post Editorial stated that the “Internet technology specialist” in the Secretary of State’s office had an unspecified “problem” with the timeline proposed in the bill, which envisions offering election-day registration starting in the coordinated election this November and primary election in June.

The Post advised that “more time should be allowed for development and testing of same-day registration technology,” and the newspaper threw out the completely unsupported suggestion that “consideration” should be given to “disallowing voter registration very close to or on Election Day in the first years of using the technology.” [BigMedia emphasis]

It’s not clear what problem the Secretary of State’s internet expert has with the legislation’s timeline, or whether even he thinks it should operate for “years” before it would be trustworthy (somehow I doubt it), but, in any case, The Post should have offered more evidence to support its view. As it is, readers are left thinking The Post irresponsibly relied on just one opinion.  One expert, even a reputable one, shouldn’t carry the day, just because he happens to agree with the editorial writer.

And as it turns out, there’s more to the story.

For the next two elections, prior to the gubernatorial in 2014, the clerks will employ the exact same technology that they currently use to process “address changes” through election day as well as  “emergency registrations,” Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall told me.

In effect, clerks across Colorado have already processed thousands of same-day registrations on or before election day, using existing technology. Their system, which has been in use since 2008, was live (with backup systems in place) during the last election with all 64 counties participating, Hall said.

In the longer term, a “more seamless” interface is needed, because of the volume increase that’s expected in the bigger elections, but it’s not required for the next two elections, Hall said, adding that she’s confident, based on experience and technical advice, that the new interface will be ready for the 2014 election, which is about a year-and-a-half away. The congressional election would be a good test for the technology leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Hall said.

“It’s an ideal time to begin, as we’re building to the next presidential,” Hall said.

Talk-show host should have questioned Gessler’s assertion that election bill being pushed by “radical liberals”

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

On Saturday, Scott Gessler continued his campaign against proposed election-modernization legislation, saying on KVOR’s Jeff Crank show that the bill is being pushed by “radical liberals in the Democratic Legislature.”

Crank has a right to see radicalism among Colorado Democrats that I’m missing, but, in any event, Crank surely knows that the election bill has been endorsed by the Colorado County Clerks Association, with support from Democratic and Republican clerks, as well as the Colorado AARP and others.

I looked for Donetta Davidson, Executive Director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, last time I was at Burning Man, but I didn’t see her there.

If you happen to be at any rad gatherings and you want to find Davidson, please click here to see her photo.

Meanwhile, here’s a portion of her biography, as posted by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, after Davidson was appointed to serve on the Commission in 2005:

Ms. Donetta L. Davidson was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by unanimous consent of the United States Senate on July 28, 2005 to serve on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). She was reappointed to a second term on October 2, 2008. Ms. Davidson was elected Chair of the EAC for 2010. She previously served as Chair in 2007 and Vice-Chair in 2008. Her term of service extends through December 12, 2011. Ms. Davidson, formerly Colorado’s secretary of state, comes to EAC with experience in almost every area of election administration – everything from county clerk to secretary of state.

Ms. Davidson began her career in election administration when she was elected in 1978 as the Bent County clerk and recorder in Las Animas, Colorado, a position she held until 1986. Later that year, she was appointed director of elections for the Colorado Department of State, where she supervised county clerks in all election matters and assisted with recall issues for municipal, special district and school district elections.

In 1994, she was elected Arapahoe County clerk and recorder and reelected to a second term in 1998. The next year, Colorado Governor Bill Owens appointed Davidson as the Colorado secretary of state, and she was elected to in 2000 and reelected in 2002 for a four year term.

Where’s “easy-to-vote” Gessler now?

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Scott Gessler likes to soften his repeated accusations of voter fraud by saying his job, as Secretary of State, is to make it “easy to vote but tough to cheat.”

As Gessler told the Conservative Political Action Committee in October:

And I think most people would agree that when it comes to elections, it should be easy to vote but tough to cheat.  And, you know, I’m focused on both efforts.

Actually, if you listen to Gessler, you know he delivers the “easy-to-vote, tough-to-cheat” line all the time.

What’s Gessler thinking about the “easy-to-vote” part of the deal now, as country clerks have initiated a bill, currently making its way through the State Legislature, that would make voting easier and elections more efficient?

He’s opposing the legislation for a number of reasons, one of which is his belief that Democrats are instituting a “partisan advantage,” even though academics agree that voter conveniences, such as election-day and early registration, for example, do not favor one party over the other.

In response to Mike Rosen’s assertion on KOA last week that Democrats will get more votes if they “make it easier for casual and lazy voters to vote,” Gessler said, “You know, I think there’s evidence to support that.”

Rosen didn’t question Gessler. Why would he, since they echo in the same chamber.

So we need a journalist to find out from Gessler 1) where is his evidence that voter conveniences produce partisan results, 2) why it matters anyway, unless he’s against voting, and 3) why he’s against key elements of an election bill that would do what Gessler says he wants–make voting easier?

Durango Herald correct in asserting that academics don’t see partisan advantage in election-day registration

Friday, April 12th, 2013

In his April 9 article about proposed legislation that would, among other things, allow citizens to register to vote through Election Day, Durango Herald reporter Joe Hanel wrote:

Conventional wisdom holds that same-day registration will give Democrats an advantage. However, academics who have studied the idea find the evidence for it is sketchy.

Hanel didn’t cite a specific academic, but his assertion is, in fact, correct.

Not that it matters. Presumably, in America, we want as many people to register and vote as possible, within budget and security constraints, whether they do it picking their nose in the shower or on Election Day at the polls. In other words, the debate about whether same-day registration favors one side or the other is irrelevant, unless you’re against voting.

But, in any event…

I called Associate Professor Michael McDonald at George Mason University, and he told me that early voting and same-day registration may, in some situations, benefit Democrats and, in others, benefit Republicans.

“It depends on the ability of the campaigns to mobilize voters,” he told me. “In different situations, Democrats may win the early vote. Republicans may win the early vote in other situations. It depends on the context.”

In 2010, I interviewed Curtis Gans, Director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, about whether he believes same-day registration benefits Democrats or Republicans. Gans is not a Ph.D., but he is a widely quoted independent expert, who’s been associated with American University, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and elsewhere.

“I think it’s not predictable at all,” he answered. “We have been shown that it’s not predictable one way or the other. There’s plenty of evidence.”

He added: “So long as a state does not have a history or likelihood of abuse of the registration system…- fraudulent registration, voting in the name of dead people, that sort of thing…-there is no harm and maybe a little good that can come out of election-day registration.”

Colorado has no such history of election fraud, as far as I could find.

I asked Gans, “What’s the little good that can come of same-day registration?”

“The good part is, that if people get interested in the election closer to the election, they don’t have to sit it out because they’re not registered,” he told me. “That’s the good part. It enhances the opportunity to vote.”

I called Gans yesterday to get an update on the situation. He told me his view remains the same.

“It’s also true with in-person early voting,” Gans said. “In 2004, the Republicans got the benefit of in-person early voting. The last two elections the Democrats did. It depends on the political climate.”

Colorado’s current practice is to cut off voter registration 29 days before ballots are cast.

“It depends on who’s motivated to go vote,” Gans said, adding that he doesn’t think there’s any dispute among election experts on this point.

Gessler trashes Denver Post

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

On KOA’s Mike Rosen show this morning, Secretary of State Scott Gessler amped up his attacks on The Denver Post, saying, among other things, that the newspaper is “ideologically skewed in one direction, and that’s where they devote their resources.”

Tell that to ColoradoPols, Mr, Secretary of State. But it gets worse.

In response to Rosen’s assertion that Post news coverage of Gessler channels “Democrat talking points” and gives “lip service to the other side,” Gessler said:

“I think that’s true lately. I think part of it depends on who the reporter is who covers my office. So this article today is written by a guy Joey Bunch. He’s new on the beat. So we’ll see how well he works. I’m sort of optimistic that he will be a lot fairer than what we’ve seen in the past.”

I asked the collective wisdom on Twitter if anyone thinks Post reporter Joey Bunch will be “a lot fairer” to Gessler than the Post’s previous Gessler-beat reporters , Tim Hoover and Sara Barnett.

No one replied, but I can tell you that Hoover (who’s writing editorials) and Barnett (who’s gone) are widely considered stars in Denver journalism circles.

Gessler implied that The Post has an institutional bias against him, saying:

“You know, I think The Denver Post is just ideologically skewed in one direction, and that’s where they devote their resources.”

And he expects The Post to get fully behind former Senate President Ken Gordon, who’s running against Gessler.

“I’ll be running against Ken Gordon and his largest corporate donor, which is The Denver Post,” Gessler told an approving Rosen.

Gessler’s comments today go beyond the usual darts he’s thrown at The Post and other media outlets in the past. He’s trashing specific Post reporters, as well as the entire institution.

Coming from an elected official who, more than other partisan politicians, is supposed to stand up for democracy, and seems so ignorant about the role of journalism therein, it’s gross.

Someone at The Post, maybe one of the good folks who posts on the Editor’s Notes blog or somewhere, should respond to Gessler’s abuse.

Transcript of Mike Rosen’s interview with Scott Gessler 4-10-13

Rosen: “You’ll be running for re-election against The Denver Post. It’s one thing for them to endorse a Democrat, any Democrat, on the editorial pages, which they, no doubt will. But they have been on you ever since you took office. And I think, in most cases, unfairly. In any event, do you know who your official Democrat opponent will be.”

Gessler: “I do. It’s Ken Gordon.”

Rosen: “Former state legislator.

Gessler: “Former state legislator. He ran eight years ago against Mike Coffman, narrowly lost. So, I’ll be running against Ken Gordon and his largest corporate donor, which is The Denver Post.”

Rosen: “What does The Denver Post have against you?”

Gessler: “You know, I think The Denver Post is just ideologically skewed in one direction, and that’s where they devote their resources. I mean, if you look at this legislative session, every single initiative that the Democrats have pushed, the democratic post [laughs], The Denver Post has been on board with that 100 percent. They’ve sided with the Democrats every single time.”

Rosen: “In their news stories attacking you, they just channel Democrat talking points, giving lip service to the other side. That’s my appraisal, and of course I’m biased. But I think my analysis is accurate.”

Gessler: “I think that’s true lately. I think part of it depends on who the reporter is who covers my office. So this article today is written by a guy Joey Bunch. He’s new on the beat. So we’ll see how well he works. I’m sort of optimistic that he will be a lot fairer than what we’ve seen in the past.”