Kelley & Company, Scott Gessler, May 24, 2013

Station:     KNUS, 710 AM

Show:        Kelley & Company

Guests:           Gessler 


Date:         May 24, 2013       

Topics:       Colorado Governor’s Campaign 2014, Tom Tancredo, Renewale Energy Mandates, Senate Bill 252, Second Amendment, Small Business, Liberty Day, Constitution, Justice Department, Internal Revenue Service, Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Attorney General John Suthers, Campaign Finance Laws, Online Services, Secretary of State’s Office Service Center, Voter Turnout, Election Integrity, Voter Confidence, Partisan, Democratic Overreach, Jobs,  Gun Restictions, School Finance Reform, Graduation rates, Tax Increase, Steve Laffey


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GUEST HOST JIMMY SENGENBERGER:  […] And you know, before I get to state politics and those issues with him [Scott Gessler], I’d love to welcome on Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler to the program, and first, ask for your thoughts, Secretary Gessler, on this whole thing and this idea of the Justice Department investigating itself. 

COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE SCOTT GESSLER:   Well, I think, pretty clearly, the Department of Justice and the IRS has been compromised in their ability to be objective on any of this stuff.  I mean, I just think it’s appropriate to have an independent review.  People need to know what happened.  And people need to know that someone is looking at that fairly. 

SENGENBERGER:  Absolutely.  I think that it’s something that – you know, [inaudible] just trust this. So, anyway, that said, that’s at the national level.  Before we get to local politics, as well, I just want to ask you, we talked about this morning, I mentioned Liberty day and the non-profit that teaches the kids about the Constitution.  Are you ready to go into the lions’ den of a 5th grade class later this  morning? 

GESSLER:  I don’t know about that.  I’m trying to brace myself for the onslaught.  I’m understanding that these—that this fifth grade class –these fifth graders have been studying the Constitution, so they’re going to be up on it, and I need to have my game on.

SENGENBERGER:  Absolutely. 

GESSLER:  But I think it’s going to be – and I think it’s great that kids are learning about our Constitution and the foundations of our country. 

SENGENBERGER:  Absolutely.  And just the other day, we had Treasurer Walker Stapleton in a fifth grade class, and last week, Attorney General John Suthers.  So we just need to –we’ve been working on Governor Hickenlooper, as well.  So, if we could get everybody, that would be great.  So, good luck and have a lot of fun later this morning when you’re with those classes for Liberty Day, ‘dot org’.  I want to get to politics, obviously, where yesterday the news broke – and I’ll – we’ll touch on this real quick with you, Secretary Gessler, that you did file paperwork to run for governor although you haven’t reached a final decision, obviously, in terms of making an official announcement.  So, two questions for you on this.  First, where are you in that decision making process?  Can you give us any idea about that?  And then, sort of, what are some thoughts that are going through your mind in terms of shifting from Secretary of State to Governor, as to why you might be making that consideration.  What can you tell us?

GESSLER:  Sure. Let me just clear up one thing.  The paper work I filed wasn’t to run for governor, It was – the intricacies of campaign finance law. 

SENGENBERGER:  To consider –

GESSLER:  Yeah, so you’re sort of required to do this once people report that you’re looking into it.  So, that was sort of a formality that I had to do.  So, right now, where I am is , you know, very seriously considering it.  And, you know, next week I plan on, you know, sort of announcing and deciding exactly – making it clear exactly what’s going to be going on.  And when you look at the considerations, you know, there’s a lot – I mean, it’s a big decision, in my view.  And there’s a lot of considerations;  first and foremost, you know, what’s the impact that this is going to have on your family.  What – you know, because I’ve got a wife and a five year old girl— daughter, you know.  And so, that’s important.  The other thing is, you know, what have I done at the Secretary of State’s office and what else is there left to do?   You know, have we been able to accomplish a lot of what we’ve wanted.  And to a large extent, the answer to that is ‘yes’.  And then the third is, you know, where are we going as a state?  Because ultimately, that’s really what this is about.  It’s not about me, or John Hickenlooper, or anyone else.  It’s, you know, where do we want to go as a state.  And, you know, like many people I’m vey dissatisfied with where we’re headed.  And I’m very dissatisfied because I think we’re missing opportunities where Colorado can do a far better job.  So, you know, you weigh that, and whether or not the best way to try and address that is staying as a Secretary of State candidate, or if throwing my hat into the governor’s race.  We’ll see what happens. 

SENGENBERGER:  Absolutely.  On each of those things, real quick, I do want to say, you know, I’ve met you’re wife and I don’t know what she sees in you, Mr. Secretary, but you’re a lucky man.  I can definitely tell you that, sir. 

GESSLER:  After what my wife has been through, I’m sure at some point she’ll be nominated for sainthood. 

SENGENBERGER:  Exactly right!  And to the second thing, in regards to your service as Secretary of State, I want to commend you.  I mean, you ran on a campaign with very specific goals and objectives and you worked as hard as you could, facing controversy that you didn’t deserve, and I think really didn’t earn because you were doing the right thing.  But they’ve been — the media has been throwing it at you, the Democrats, and so forth.  And you’ve stood strong, to really stand on those convictions and to execute things that you have felt were necessary in that office.  So I want to commend you on that and give you a chance to let some of the listeners know a couple of the things that you have done as Secretary of State over the last few years, that have really worked to put more accountability when it comes to elections, but also the other things that the Secretary of State’s office does.

GESSLER:  Well, thanks.  I appreciate that.  You know, I mean, we do have a record of achievement at the Secretary of State’s office.  We ran a great election last cylce.  I mean, the outcome wasn’t what I wanted, but the process we did was great.  We had more people vote, better turn out than ever before in the history of Colorado.  Our military and our overseas turnout skyrocketed, which is good.  We worked really hard to make sure it was easy for our military, our soldiers and sailors and air personnel to be able to vote.  And we had fewer problems than ever before.  We’ve got better voter integrity than ever before.  And so, I think everyone in our office, we can say, “
We still have work to do.  But we’re better than we’ve done before.  And we’re on the right path.  You know, we’re — the thing that doesn’t get as much attention with the Secretary of State’s office, is we’re the gateway to business.  So, when someone starts a business, or files a lien, or stuff like that, they come to our office.  And here’s the thing.  We’ve rolled out more services online, we’re the most sophisticated, easiest-to-use Secretary of State’s office in country.  And, you know, I’ve actually lowered fees.  We’ve had permanent fee reductions. We’ve had fee holidays.  So, we’re actually – I mean, we’re actually doing more with less.  The other day, we finished the consolidation of a lot of our call centers.  We now look at it as a service center.  You know, and we pick up the phone.  When people call, we will pick up the phone and we answer questions, and our job is to help people do their business, get their job done, and not worry about government regulations.  So, we’re actually demonstrating, I think, a different pathway than what a lot of people see.  And our path, I think, is, you know, making regulations user-friendly, helping people get their work done, good customer service, and not costing an arm and a leg to do it. 

SENGENBERGER:  Uh, absolutely. And, — the thing though is, that I understood, is that you were disenfranchising voters.  Where did I go wrong, there?  I thought that’s what you were doing. 

GESSLER:  [laughs] Yeah, well, that was really sort of a talking point from the critics.  They — you know, we heard all these complaints and everything.  And I say, “Let’s look at the numbers!”  Our turnout is third best in the nation. And it went up, this last cycle, where most people went down.  Our military and overseas turnout just shot up through the roof compared to other states.  Fewer problems than ever before.  Better integrity.  Here’s my view.  When people believe and have confidence that someone at the Secretary of State’s office is looking out for their elections, is looking to protect the integrity of the elections and to make sure that our election is good, that’s when people have more confidence in it.  They say, “Look!  I don’t have to worry about cheating in this election.  I know that my vote is going to count.  I know that my vote is welcome.  And I know that I’ve got someone in that office who is going to work hard to make sure this stuff goes off without a hitch.  And that’s what I’ve tried to do.  And I think when people see that, and they have more confidence, they’re going to be a bit more likely to vote.  And that’s what turns people out to vote – is inspiring them that this stuff matters. 

SENGENBERGER:  […]Why are you considering a possible run for governor, given the discussions about, “well, we want to have somebody that’s competent, that’s reliable, that has been a strong leader on issues, particularly with elections, as you have been, why consider the run for governor?  Obviously, [it] dovetails with the third point, but also reflects on what you just said.  

GESSLER:  Well, I think if you sort of look at context of the thing, you know — I mean, Governor Hickenlooper, when he took office and as recently as a year ago, I mean he really sort of projected himself as a moderate and someone who wanted to listen to all voices. 

SENGENBERGER:  That he did.

GESSLER:   And, I mean, that encouraged me.  And that encouraged me, to be frank.  But what we’ve really seen over the past year, particulary this last legislative session, is we’ve seen one time after another just, you know, within this legislature, a ruth—just ruthless, ruthless display of political power — just shoving things through.  Making it harder for people to earn a living.  You know, removing peoples’ liberties and freedoms.  And just trampling on that stuff.  And we’ve got a governor who really has been a partisan rubber stamp for a partisan legislature.  And so – I mean I, for one, think that we can do so much better, whether it’s, you know, attracting jobs and attracting business here in Colorado, and making it easier for them to create jobs and build our economy, or whether we’re looking at other systems, whether it’s our education system, our heath system, we can do so much better than we can [sic] and we just lost some real opportunities.   And instead of moving Colorado forward as a state, what we’re doing – what we’ve seen the other side do, is really sort of work to seal in a very narrow ideological agenda.  And our governor has been absolutely part and parcel of that.  He is signing every bill that comes to his desk.  He’s providing no leadership at all.  He’s not a check and a balance on some of the worst Left-wing – in my view, impulses that you see coming out of the legislature.  So, it’s very frustrating to watch. 

SENGENBERGER:  Now, speaking more specifically, and excluding the, for example, the Same Day Voter Registration bill that was passed through the legislature, and so forth, what are, say, three of the items that went through this past legislative session that particularly energize you and get you frustrated? 

GESSLER:  Well, it’s hard to limit it to three.

SENGENBERGER:  [laughs] I hear that. 

GESSLER:  I mean, it’s really hard to limit it to three.  But, you know, a couple are, — for example, the level of liability that they’ve done to increase the dangers of operating a small business, making it harder for small businesses to operate and to work.  That’s not a good thing.  And it’s going to make it harder for people to earn a living, and harder for people to create jobs.  You know, I think the whole stuff about the Second Amendment and the restricitions on guns was a really bad thing.  And look, I understand where people are coming from.  And I understand that it’s – you know, we’ve got to protect our children and our people,  but even the Democrats who push this, many of them admitted that their laws and their restrictions on the Second Amendment weren’t – aren’t going to make any difference, when it comes to crime.  So that was very frustrating to watch.  And then, we see sort of mandates – for example, utility bills are going to be rising, particularly in rural Colorado, and that’s just a job killer, right there.  So, I mean, you know, our governor is now supporting a – I think it’s a billion dollar tax increase –

SENGENBERGER:  Yes, on education.  [Facetiously]  It’s for the kids!  It’s for the children, Secretary!

GESSLER:  Yeah, I mean, it’s — I understand those desires but at the e—at the same day, there’s only so much we can be doing while living within our means, to improve.  And we’ve got a – I mean, Colorado needs to be, I think, we need to strive to be the best – not just one of the best in the country, but one of the best in the world with our graduation rates, and our achievement in excellence, and being able to compete like that.  And you know, there’s just not a lot of that going on, a lot of that focus.  And so that’s frustrating to watch, as well. 

SENGENBERGER:  I couldn’t agree more on all of those issues and points that you’ve raised.  And the one thing that I can say, I mean, I  — Tom Tancredo, Greg Brophy, um, I don’t know much about Mr. Laffey up in Fort Collins, but I think we have a great crop of people that are at least considering to run for governor.  So, that’s very encouraging.  And I like the people that are in there.  And the thing that I can really say that would come as a big strength to you, whether you decide to stick with Secretary of State or shift to governor, is that you are a guy that means—says what he means and  means what he says, and then does it – and is an action oriented guy.  So, I want to let people know that, regardless of what the outcome is and the decision, that we can at least trust that you’ll be reliable in that regard  […]  What do you think of our good buddy, Tom Tancredo?

GESSLER:  Well, you know, I like and I respect Tom, and you know, I think it’s — you know, it’s good that we’re — we’ve got people interested and looking at running for governor and getting in.  And you know, — look, I may support him.  I may oppose him.  I don’t know.  But, you know, he and I have, we’ve sat down and we’ve talked.  And the bottom line is, we – I think regardless of what happens, I think both of us, whether I’m running for Secretary of State or governor, and he is definitely running for governor, obviously.  I think both of us really want to focus on the issues that we have facing us.  And I think it’s important for us to say, “Look, this isn’t about him, and it’s not about me, and it’s not about Governor Hickenlooper.”  What it’s about is where we’re going to go as a state.  And we have to keep our eyes on that debate and that concern, and say, “Where are we going to go as a people, here in the state of Colorado?”  And that’s really what matters.  And unfortunately, you know, a lot of times, you know people get into the personalities of it, and the give and take, and the – you know, who’s up and who’s down, and all that stuff.  But at the end of the day, its, “Where are we going to go as a state?  How are we going to raise our kids?”   And all that.