Jimmy Sengenberger Show, Scott Gessler, April 19, 2014

Station:   KNUS, 710 AM

Show:      Jimmy Sengenberger Show

Guests:    Gessler

Link:        http://sengenberger.podbean.com/

Date:       April 19, 2014

Topics:     Massachusetts, High Standards, New Orleans, Louisiana, School Choice, Vouchers, Blue State, Energy, Ethics Commission, Independent Ethics Commission, Ethics Watch, Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA), Noble Energy, Xcel Energy, Corrupt, Corruption, Republican National Convention (RNC), Florida, Death Threats, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, Taxes, Fees, Regulations, Legislature, Budget, Secretary of State’s Office, Ethics Violation, John Hickenlooper, Arapahoe County Clerk, Denver Broncos, Chicago, Bosnia, Rule of Law, Jobs, Economy, Rule of Law, Estes Park Mayor, Governor John Hickenlooper, Illegal Contributions, Labor Participation Rate,

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HOST JIMMY SENGENBERGER:   Congratulations on making the ballot.  You’ve had a week to kind of soak it in, and strategize, and look at where things are headed.  What are you thinking?

COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE & GUVERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I’m thinking we have a pretty darn good chance to win this race.

SENGENBERGER:  Talk to us about that.

GESSLER:  And I’m looking forward to that.

SENGENBERGER:  Now, what do you think you have going for you that’s unique?  […]  Now, when you’ve got several different challengers, and you’ve got several months leading up that, what sets Scott Gessler apart?

GESSLER:  Well, a couple things. I mean, I’m the only guy who, in this race, who has actually managed an executive agency and actually done these things.  That’s different from taking a vote on the floor.  I mean, it’s easy to take a vote.  It’s a lot harder to actually put this stuff into action.  Sort of like, words are one thing, but actions are another.  So, when I talk about cutting taxes, it’s not that I rhetorically got up and made some speech. I’ve actually done something that’s shows how we can reduce fees here in the state of Colorado. And, you know, I mean, some people talk about they’re going to order a whole bunch of regulations be cut. Well, that’s not how it works. You have to build a culture, so that day in and day out, people wake up and they want to regulate less, not regulate more. Because if you just sort of order things, that’s not going to work. It never has and it never will. You’ve got to build a culture, with the right executive team in place, the right management team in place. You’ve got to inspire government to, you know, follow through on these things that we talk about on the campaign trail. And I’m the one guy – I’m the only guy in this campaign who’s actually been able to do it. The other thing is, I’m the only guy who has actually won a state-wide election.  I mean, if you want to have the same results that we’ve had in the past, just do the same thing. If you want something different, we have to do something differently.  And I’m — I’ve done something different.  You know, I’ve won the election. And I’ve won a state-wide election. You know, Tom Tancredo is a good man, he has not won one. Bob Beauprez is a good man, he has not won one. Mike Kopp is a good man, when he ran the state Senate Majority Fund, which was the 527 to support senators in 2010. We didn’t win any of the competitive races then either. I think we need to stop looking to the past and looking instead to the future.

SENGENBERGER:  Now, the two concerns that obviously pop up, and these are things that can be spun one way or another, and we’ve talked about the ethics situation before, and I want to give you a chance to talk about that briefly.  But also, the whole budget situation in Secretary of State’s office, just explain those two things and what sort of accusations have been put forth and just talk about them, because when people are looking in a primary, they’re looking at the pros and cons of the different candidates.  And those are two issues that some contend stick, is that, okay, you can put up this moniker that, you know, Scott Gessler has got these ethics violations from biased committee. I mean, we’ve been on this from the very start, before you ran for governor.

GESSLER:  [interrupting]  Let me talk about some of that stuff.  First of all, let’s talk about the budget.  The Secretary of State’s budget is great! I mean, we’re as solid as a rock. And we’ve had to absorb more and more costs that this legislature puts on me. The people who have said otherwise just have no clue what’s going on.  In fact, what they’re really doing is trying to mislead Republicans by parroting Democratic talking points. You see, I’ve run my budget, I’ve cut the fees, and that’s how government agencies should run. Now the Democrats don’t like it, so they claim mismanagement. But what they’re really trying to do is force me to spend more money – and I’m not going to spend more money! We went to the legislature and said we need a budget of about a little over $19 million dollars, and they said, “Well, you really should spend about $21 million.”  And I said, “No, I’m not!” And here’s the thing: people can talk about this budget that and talk about it there – it’s all wrong! If you actually look at the Secretary of State’s numbers, for those willing to take the time, you’ll see that we’ve managed our budget very tightly. We’ve managed our office very tightly, and that’s why I was able to cut fees. That’s why we’ve been able to launch new products.  That’s why we have more sophisticated operations than ever before. I show performance. Everyone else just shows talk. Now, the other thing, with respect to all this ethics and misappropriations of funds and whatnot, we need to realize, Republicans need to stand up and understand that we have a corrupt state government.  They shouldn’t buy into the corruption. It is corrupt. You look at the ethics commission – it is corrupt. Three of the five ethics commisioners –“so-called ethics commissioners” I call them – have contributed to John Hickenlooper’s re-election campaign.  John Hickenlooper went to Aspen for the Democratic Governors’ Association. So huge gifts, [he] was told, “Hey, you’re sitting next to the guy from Xcel who has contributed $100,000. And you’re sitting next to the person from Noble Energy who contributed $50,000. And they paid for the governor to come there. And the ethics commission made something up – and we don’t quite know what it is because it was all oral, it was– they didn’t write anything, at least, not yet. And they said, “Oh, it’s fine for him to do that, because the state benefits so much from him going out, trying to elect Democrats, on state time.” Now, I say “elect Democrats” – that’s what he was doing. And he had something like four or six staffers who prepared for this and worked with the Democratic Governors Association on government time and flew out and drove out there – I don’t know if they drove or flew — and they were put up by the same corporate donors. And you know what, the ethics rules say, “No Gifts” and “our Ethics commission is designed to protect a governor.” The same day that that opinion came out, they issued another opinion that the Arapahoe County Clerk could not accept a gift basket from the Denver Broncos and have a lottery among his employees so some employee making 30 or 40,000 dollars a year could get a signed bronco football for his good work.

SENGENBERGER:  Seriously!  I had not heard about that one.

GESSLER:  That came out the same day. Let me tell you, Jimmy, this is a corrupt, corrupt government.  And I will say ‘corrupt’ again.  I was down at the Republican National Committee, on my own dime at the hotel […] I flew back early on state money because someone threatened to put a bullet in my head, and said they knew where I lived.  And someone sent email saying they were going to do all these terrible things to every woman in my family.  My wife and daughter moved out of the house because they were afraid of what was going to happen. And I came back early. The Colorado Bureau of Investigations found out who committed that violation. They found out it was a Democratic activist in Denver who made at least one of those threats. It’s in Westword—you can read it.  And what did the Denver DA do? They refused to prosecute. Instead, they did a six month grand jury investigation into me!  In part, because I flew back early. They ultimately cleared me of everything. But that’s the kind of corruption we have in this state. And so, for Republicans who are afraid of that, […] all I say is shame on you. Because that’s what’s going to keep happening year in and year out and we’ve seen it happen again and again.  Bill Ritter commits the largest campaign violation in the history of the state of Colorado –takes $250,000 in illegal contributions. The courts do everything they can to protect him. Mike Coffman, a few years before that, has a couple staffers send out a fax against—a fax against a ballot initiative – that goes all the way to the Supreme Court and of course he gets fined for it. So apparently he has an ethics violation, too. The difference between me and everyone else, is I’ve 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.” And no one else wants to.

SENGENBERGER:  [Jimmy tries to interject with another question or comment, but gets interrupted by Gessler] Now, the Colorado –

GESSLER:  Because they’re afraid.  They’re afraid that if someone gets – a Republican gets criticized, they’re afraid that they can no longer win elections.  And let me ask you Jimmy, how has that worked out for us over the last ten years?

SENGENBERGER:  We are a party that needs to be bold. I agree with you there, is that we need to be hit [inaudible].

GESSLER:  I am the only guy who’s being bold on this stuff and what happens? 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.”

SENGENBERGER:  […] The Independent Ethics Commission is something that is established in the state Constitution and it was done poorly and there is certainly a lot of problems that we see as a consequence of this. I mean, you’ve given a number of different examples as to that, and how it’s been used to support Democrats and to hurt Republican.  What do you think, if it’s feasible, we need to do in order to do some reform so that we don’t have this kind of corruption going on for the supposed ethics watchers?

GESSLER:  Well, here’s what you do:  first of all, you stop appointing politicians and wannabe politicians to the commission. Okay?  I mean, the Democratic former majority leader was the guy who led the charge against me and he was on the commission. There’s another Democratic legislator who had a history of criticizing me. She was on the commission. Theres’ a so-called independent – he’s a mayor of Estes Park. He’s done deals up there where he invited the governor in to help him out and he has contributed to the governor. Those are politicians. The Republicans that have been appointed, they’re politicians too, but Democrats appoint them because they’re a certain type of politician that are going to go along with the Democrats. [The] first thing you do, get the politicians out of there. Put people who actually are fair people up there, like former judges.  Okay?  Or maybe former professors on this stuff – people who have a reputation for being fair.  Not people who have a reputation for being a politician. Okay?  That’s the first start.  The second start, is actually provide some oversight.  They have no oversight and they just run wild.  With me, I found out that the ethics commission was going after me by reading about it in the Denver Post.  You know, the first thing they did was start a political attack against me, publicly.

SENGENBERGER:  Certainly no due process there.

GESSLER:  There never was. So we need to actually have rules that they’re required to have some form of due process. And thirdly, we ought to have specific areas of jurisdiction.  Right now, they just make it up as they go along.  […] They’ll find jurisdiction over anything they want.  And they make it up.  And they did it with me.  It took them seven long months to make it up with me, but they eventually did it. So there’s a lot of things we need to do to reform it. The underlying law is—in some ways, a bit silly.  But, the fact of the matter is that our governor is above the law. This ethics commission is corrupt.  And someone ought to stand up and do something about it, and I am. And that’s all—

SENGENBERGER:  […] Talk to us about – just the importance, then,– because this goes right into the subject of rule of law, and the importance of the rule of law in our society.  Talk to us about that.

GESSLER:  Well, I grew up in Chicago.  I grew up west of the city of Chicago, and still in Cook county. I left there 17 years ago. And part of the reason I left is because I didn’t want to live in a society where the fix was in, where it was who you know, and not what you did in life, where the people who were powerful got protected, whether you were protected by the courts, or they were protected by the left-wing newspapers, but they were protected, and they were above the law, and others weren’t.  I left that society and that’s why I moved to Colorado.  And what I have found is the Chicago way has followed me.  We have a governor who goes to the editors of the New Yorker magazine and he says we should have more deals — back room deals behind closed doors.  And he just ignores the ethics laws, just ignores them, and the ethics commission lets him get away with it.  That’s not – you know, that corrupts a society.  When I – I served over in Bosnia, and I was in civil affairs.  I dealt with a lot of the local officials and [inaudible] groups.  And that was not a rule of law.  That was where the strong man won.  And let me tell you, that rots the soul of a people.  Where people no longer respect the law, we lose the foundation of our western civilization here.  And we’re facing that in Colorado.

SENGENBERGER:  And I’ve got to tell you, just looking at the constitution, and very closely–the state and federal constitution, overall, the overriding principle is that we have rule of law and not a rule by man.  And that’s why we don’t have a king. That’s why we don’t have a queen, no titles of nobility.  We have elected officials that are there to serve the people.  […]

[commercial break]

SENGENBERGER:  Back to the phones now, though, where we have Scott Gessler on the line, candidate for governor and current Secretary of State.  I want to hit on a couple of issues before we let you go, and we’ve only got about three, three-and-a-half minutes here, but, let’s talk first and foremost about the economy — jobs and the economy – and getting those things going again here in the state of Colorado, where we’ve got the lowest labor participation rate in the history of the state since 1976.  What would a Scott Gessler governor work for in order to create jobs again?

GESSLER:  You’re going to cut regulations, and cut some of our taxes, like our personal business property tax. That’s what you aim for.  And, like I say, I’m the only guy who’s actually done it.  I’m the only guy who has actually managed an executive organization. You know, I’m the one guy who actually can build a management team and make it happen.

SENGENBERGER:  Now, you talk about needing a culture of regulation cutting. What do you mean by that – building a culture in the government?

GESSLER:  All right, so, no governor – no one, is so smart that they understand every regulation and every difficulty.  No one can do that.  It’s beyond human comprehension.  Thousands or hundreds of thousands of regulations.  But there are thousands of state employees who know those details. If those same employees spend their time thinking, “How can I make life easier for people? How can I make life easier to do business?” They’re the ones who are going to be able to figure out how to cut this little regulation, or interpret that in a more reasonable way, or propose a law to make a change.They’re the ones who can do it. And that’s what I mean by building a culture for people who want to do it.  Here’s the thing:  when you do that, employees love it. Employees love waking up in the morning, helping people to make things easier. When you look at employee surveys – the recent employee survey from the state of Colorado, our agency, Colorado Secretary of State, was the highest performing agency in the state. Why?  Our employees wake up with a sense of vision, motivated to go out and do things that help businesses and help people live their lives easier with less regulations.  They like it, and we’ve shown the success


GESSLER:  No one else can show that.  No one who is running in this race, including Governor Hickenlooper, comes even close to being able to show that level of achievement and actually getting something done.

SENGENBERGER:  Now energy.  How do we bring energy back and energy production back to this state?

GESSLER:  You do it the exact same way, but you focus on the energy sector. You know, our energy resources are fantastic. The Niabrera oil clay in Northeastern Colorado has better oil, greater reserves, it’s cheaper to get to, than you’ve got in North Dakota.  We’ve got the natural resources here. We’ve got the regulatory environment, though, that stymies that.  And our governor – remember I told you he’s above the law and the Chicago way?  He’s mister Big Government, crony capitalism.  He puts his arms around Noble Energy, who by the way was at the Democratic Governors’ Association, who by the way contributes $50,000, who by the way sat at his table so that he could schmooze with them, he puts his arm around Noble energy and says, “Hey, we’ve come up with this regulation!”  You know, one of these oil companies is all happy, and I’m using Noble Energy just as an example because they were at the Democratic Governors’ Association.  But he puts his arm around them and says, “See?  I’m pro-business!”  Meanwhile, he ignores all of the independent folks and the smaller business people who are struggling to make ends meet and he claims he’s pro-business.  And the cameras flash.  And all is well. And Republicans are unwilling to hold him to account and they’re too shallow in their approach and that’s why they attack me.  That’s why they don’t attack him.

SENGENBERGER:  Now, finally, because we’re out of time, education. We’ve seen a real push for education reform in this state. What do we need to do to get that really going?

GESSLER:  High standards, more school choice. And I go back to this again. When the Douglas County school board needed help to get re-elected, did any candidate step up and help them out? All these Governor candidates are talking about education this and education that. I am the only one – the only one – who did something. I sent two of my campaign staffers down there.  We mobilized our volunteers, knocked on 15,000 doors. I’m the only gubernatorial candidate who actually did something about it.  Everyone else will give the speeches. I’m the one who actually does something. So, more school choice, higher standards. You look at Massachusetts for higher standards, they’ve done a great job.  And that’s a blue state. It shows you  we can do it without these partisan fights. And you look at New Orleans for school choice, which by the way is a blue city. And they’ve both shown great progress there, and we can follow that.

SENGENBERGER:  All right. Well, we are just about out of time here, Scott Gessler.   Very well done.  How can people get in touch with you or follow your campaign and learn more on the web?

GESSLER:  Visit our website: ScottGessler.com [spells out the URL].