Archive for the 'Caplis and Silverman Show' Category

Columnist should explain why it’s a “cheap left-wing talking point” to point out that Coffman calls Social Security a “ponzi scheme”

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll wrote last week that it’s a “cheap left-wing talking” point for Denver Rep. Joe Miklosi to point out that Rep. Mike Coffman called Social Security a “ponzi scheme.”

Carroll usually expresses himself as clearly as any columnist out there, but here he should have given us a few more details.

As it is, Carroll sounds like he’s using the “cheap left-wing-talking-point” line as a cheap right-wing talking point against Miklosi.

I mean, Carroll might have a point if Coffman had burped out the “ponzi-scheme” comment, and then said something like, “Excuse me. I didn’t mean it.”  Or even if Coffman said it just once.

But Coffman has embraced the ponzi-ssheme concept not once but twice with his trademark intellectual air of certainty, first calling it “obviously” a “ponzi scheme” and then confirming his view in a second interview.

What Coffman is saying here, unless you believe Bernie Madoff is innocent, is that Social Security is a big piece of fraud, designed by the Madoffs in Washington to rip us all off.

Actually, Social Security is a government program that’s completely above board and transparent, about as different from a ponzi scheme as you can imagine. It’s been tweaked a number of times during its existence, but it remains hugely successful. It will remain solvent for 25 more years with no changes at all, and minor changes will keep it going much longer. It’s no ponzi scheme, as explained here.

Now, to be fair to Coffman, he goes on to say in interviews that he wants to reform Social Security because unless changes are made, it won’t be there for the under-55 set.

But how does this square with his view that it’s a ponzi scheme? If it’s a ponzi scheme, you’d want to get rid of it and put the perpetrators in jail.

It’s a question someone should ask Coffman, why he wants to save a ponzi scheme, because his repeated use of the phrase seems to show that part of him must really hate the program or, in the bigger picture, government itself, because Social Security represents a successful effort by the federal government to collect taxes and design programs to improve our lives.

Coffman wants to have it both ways, allegedly believing in Social Security, yet calling it–and by implication government itself–criminal.

So, it’s not a left-wing talking point for Miklosi to highlight the fact that Coffman has repeatedly called Social Security a ponzi scheme.

It’s a legitimate statement about Coffman, and it should make columnists like Carroll wonder where Coffman really stands not just on Social Security but the basic functions of government.

Caplis and Silverman rush Gessler off the air after he alleges election fraud in Denver

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Under normal circumstances, I’d slam KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman for letting Colorado’s Secretary of State breeze onto their show Wednesday, assert that there’s a “pretty high incidence of fraud” among one type of Denver voters, and then depart without being forced to explain what in the world he was talking about and what evidence he had to back it up.

But maybe Caplis and Silverman have heard Secretary of State Scott Gessler make so many unsubstantiated accusations of election fraud by now that it sounds normal, so normal that they think there’s no need for boring follow-up questions.

Whatever they were thinking, KHOW talk-show hosts Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman listened in silence Wednesday as Scott Gessler made the startling assertion that “Denver itself admitted” that sending election ballots to inactive voters has resulted in a “pretty high incidence of fraud.”

The issue arose last week when Gessler’s office sued to block Denver from mailing ballots for the Nov. 1 election to voters who haven’t cast a ballot since 2008 and did not respond to a letter asking if they wanted a ballot.

Gessler took the action partially to “reduce the potential for fraud,” according to the lawsuit.

But on the radio, Gessler sharpened his accusation, saying he was fighting fraud itself, not just theoretical fraud.

Gessler said [at the 37 minute point in the podcast]: But Denver itself admitted, there’s a pretty high incidence of fraud in inactive-voters returned ballots. They rejected in their municipal election well over 200. So we know fraud exists. The question is, what’s the extent and what’s the proper balance. The Legislature struck that balance. I’m going to respect it.

Denver has not admitted that there was any fraud resulting from ballots submitted by inactive voters, much less a “pretty high incidence” of it.

“I’m not sure what he [Gessler] is saying is fraud,” Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson told me. “He’s using the word fraud loosely.”

She said about 200 ballots in the 2011 Denver municipal election were found to have “signature discrepancies,” meaning the voter’s signature on the paper ballot was determined not to match the voter’s signature in Denver’s database. If a signature discrepancy is found, a voter is sent a letter and given eight days to clear up the matter.

“Every one of those is sent to the District Attorney,” Johnson told me. “And none of those has been identified as fraudulent by the DA.”

Johnson pointed out that it’s not just the inactive voters who have signature discrepancies, it’s also the active voters. ‘We pulled our numbers from the last election, and they were the same, in terms of the percentage of ballots returned,” she said.

The history of election fraud in Denver, it turns out, is deadly dull, even to a political junkie. And you’d have to think even Gessler, who seems to get excited about fraud even when it’s not really fraud, would find it dull as well.

The last case of election fraud in Denver that was actually prosecuted occurred in 2005 and involved a single voter, according to Amber McReynolds, Director of Elections for Denver. She added that, in 2009, a circulator of a petition was found to be fraudulently signing names, and turned over to the DA, and in 2010, the state of Arizona asked Denver for information about a person who voted in Denver and also attempted to vote in Arizona.

Gessler’s interview on Caplis and Silverman stands in stark contrast to comments he made Aug. 31, 2010, on KFKA’s Amy Oliver Show.

At the time candidate Gessler was attacking then Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buesher for allegedly failing to ensure that Colorado complied with a federal law requiring overseas military personnel be sent election ballots 45 days before the 2010 election. In the end, Buescher found a way for Colorado to comply.

Radio-host Oliver laughed it up with Gessler, who said something that Caplis and Silverman should play back to Gessler next time he’s on their show:

Gessler said: “You’re the Secretary of State. What the heck is your job? Your job is to make sure people can vote. That’s one of your jobs!”

On Caplis and Silverman Wed., about a year after his appearance on KFKA, Gessler hadn’t completely forgotten this notion of trying to make sure people can vote.

Asked by Caplis what he thought Denver was trying to accomplish by sending ballots to inactive voters, Gessler said, “I’m guessing they are trying to increase the number of people who vote in the turnout from inactive voters.”

Silverman then asked Gessler why it “isn’t a good thing, if more people vote.”

“It’s good if you don’t have fraud,” he replied.

And since there apparently is no fraud, where does that leave Gessler?

I’m hoping Caplis will ask him next time he’s on the show. Letting him depart with a”keep-up-the-good-work” slap on the back is pretty hard to listen to.

GOP National Committee Chair says Perry is electable even if he’s against Social Security

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show is drifting rightward these days, as Silverman talks about registering as a Republican so the GOP will select an electable prez candidate in 2012.

But Silverman, who leans right but says he’s an independent, can’t convince GOP-talking-point-machine Caplis that Rick Perry is unelectable. Caplis seems warm to Perry and is keeping an open mind.

Silverman put his sharp questioning skills to work on this topic Sept. 9, when GOP National Committee Chair Reince Priebus was on the show. Silverman was hoping Priebus would agree with him that Perry’s views on Social Security make him look more like a loser.

But Pribus wouldn’t bite. He rejected Silverman’s assertion in this exchange.

Silverman: Mitt Romney went on our KHOW colleague Sean Hannity’s show today and said, “If we nominate someone who the Democrats can correctly characterize as being opposed to Social Security, we will be obliterated as a party.” Romney’s read Perry’s book, Fed Up. So did I. I watched that debate the other night. Didn’t Rick Perry make himself unelectable or at least start down that road.”

Priebus: No. You know, first of all, refereeing between the candidates, that’s a pretty dicey spot for me to be in, and I try not to do that.

Maybe he tries not to, but Priebus turned against Romney here by disagreeing with Silverman. He sided with Perry, who obviously thinks his position on Social Security will not obliterate him from being POTUS.

Caplis and Silverman mum as D’Souza says Obama views America as “bad guy,” not Iran

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Radio Hosts Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman were mum yesterday as Denish D’Souza told them (at about minute 32) that “Obama views not Iran, not North Korea, but America as the bad guy.”

At the same time, Caplis eagerly promoted D’Souza’s appearance today at a GOP fundraiser at Magianno’s at the Denver Pavilions, posting a flyer about the event on the show’s KHOW web page.

Caplis and Silverman could at least have discussed whether it’s intelligent, much less appropriate, for the Colorado GOP to give a microphone to D’Souza who says that the President of the United States thinks our country is worse than Iran or North Korea.

I know the Colorado GOP has to be thick-skinned to hold up its tent, and I’m not saying D’Souza should be censored, but is this the right platform for him?

Asked about his questioning of D’Souza today, Silverman told me:

“There are time constraints in that I have a co-host. In an ideal world, I could have spent three hours individually interrogating Denish D’Souza because I listened to his book cover-to-cover. I don’t agree with his one-size-fits-all theory of Barack Obama, but I do find it interesting…

I didn’t have anything to do with putting up that promo for the luncheon, but I don’t have a big problem with it either. If I had time, I might go see him today. I don’t have to agree with a book to find it interesting…

Denish D’Souza is probably far right, and definitely conservative. I think he’s entitled to his point of view just as Jason Salzman is entitled to your  far-left view. I don’t think either of you should be censored. And if the Colorado Democratic Party wants to have a program with you, I have no problem with it. And if we cover it on KHOW, I would have no problem if we decided to post a promotion for your event.”

D’Souza’s thinking is reminiscent of Tom Tancredo’s comment last year at an appearance with U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck:

“The greatest threat to the United States today, the greatest threat to our liberty, the greatest threat to the Constitution of the United States, the greatest threat to our way of life, everything we believe in, the greatest threat to the country that was put together by the Founding Fathers is the guy who is in the White House today,” Tancredo said.

Buck felt the need to put some space between him and Tancredo, saying at the time:

“I don’t agree,” [Buck] said. “I think there are a lot of threats to the White House and I don’t think the man in the White House is the greatest threat to this country at all. I am concerned about the direction of the country, but — I love Tom, but I don’t always agree with him.”

But later, you recall, after Jane Norton, gently embraced Tancredo’s comment, Buck also warmed up to Tancredo’s position a bit.

In any case, I think Caplis and Silverman should have called out D’Souza’s extremism more forcibly and questioned its place in the political debate here in Colorado. Silverman isn’t scared to do this, but he missed an opportunity yesterday.

What kind of “real conservative” will be the next Dick Wadhams?

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Last week, KHOW’s Dan Caplis asked State Sen. Ted Harvey, who’s one of the people vying to be the next Dick Wadhams, “Do you believe if someone supported Ref C , it shows they are not a real conservative?”

 “I believe that Ref C was a poor initiative to put forward for Republicans and that those who supported it obviously are going to have to defend their positions on why they supported it. It is an issue, and we can’t deny it,” Harvey replied, adding that “I’m not going to be saying which issues are off limits and which issues are on limits.”

Ref. C allowed the CO state government to keep for five years tax dollars that would otherwise have been returned to taxpayers under TABOR rules.  Critics, including the Independence Institute, celebrated the end of Ref. C in July.

Caplis told Harvey earlier in the interview, which aired Feb. 8, that the Ref C “hatchet needs to be buried” because it’s causing us to “eat our own” and “costing us elections.” On his radio show, Caplis frequently whines that Jane Norton would have easily beaten Sen. Michael Bennet last fall.

One “particularly destructive” attack against Norton, Caplis said to Harvey, was that because Norton supported Ref C, she “wasn’t a real conservative.”

Harvey replied, “I don’t believe the Ref C issue is what lost the election for Jane Norton, nor do I believe that Ken Buck beating Jane Norton is what lost us the election to Michael Bennett. ”

The next day on his radio show, Caplis was asking similar questions of Ryan Call, another candidate for the job of Colorado State Republican Chair.

Call told Caplis:It was interesting; you obviously had one of my principle opponents in the race on yesterday. When you asked him if he would stand up as party chairman and encourage Colorado Republicans to bury the hatchet on Ref. C, which is what I think you referenced, and other divisive issues, he kind of dodged that question.”

I asked Call to explain in more detail why he thought Harvey dodged Caplis.

“You can still support Referendum C and be a good Republican,” he told me, adding that he personally voted against Ref. C and is pro-life. “You can support referring matters to voters on TABOR and still be a good Republican. You can vote in favor of civil unions and still be a good Republican, as long as you share, by and large, those core principles. You can be a good Republican and be in favor of banning gay marriage and cutting the size of government down pea stamp, if that’s what you want to do. ”

“That’s what I was going for,” he said, “and I think it was a fair criticism with respect to, when asked from multiple angles and in questions on the show, whether Sen. Harvey would be a unifying force for Republicans, or would he take sides on who is a true conservative?… Despite the recent news reports that claim that I’m friends with Democrats, I hope I can be their worst enemy. I want to put them in the minority for good.”

The dispute between Harvey and Call reminds me of paragraph from Dick Wadhams’ good-bye letter to Republicans, in which he said he’s tired of GOP activists who see “conspiracies around every corner” while simultaneously “saying  …uniting conservatives’ is all that’s needed to win tight races” in Colorado.

To me, and apparently to Dan Caplis and others, Ref. C. gets to the heart of the matter. No one will say it’s a litmus test. But which candidate sounds like they’re having it, ahh, Both Ways?

In addition to Harvey and Call, Bart Baron r and Leondray Gholston are in the race for Wadhams’ job. Others are considering entering the race, according to the Colorado Statesman.

As to who will win, Wadhams recently told The Post that, “If Harvey thinks he has the votes now to be elected, he is delusional.”

You might think Wadhams was posturing, given that he would have faced Harvey if Wadhams hadn’t resigned and  because the Tea Party seems to have control of the Colorado GOP, at the grassroots level anyway. (See Maes, Buck.)

But as Patricia Calhoun explains nicely in Westword, it looks like the grassroots wing of the GOP will be sending fewer “bonus delegates” to sit on the Republican State Central Committee, which will meet March 26 to select the new chair, than in the past.

In 2009, the GOP central committee had about 400 delegates. This time, it will be closer to 300, because so few Republican votes were cast in 2010. As Calhoun reports, the group of 300 will include 90 GOP elected officials, 192 Republican Country Party representatives, plus state GOP officials, like Wadhams, and other bonus delegates.

So the campaign to be the next Dick Wadhams could be as intense an insider brawl as the Colorado GOP has seen in years, and we all know its insider brawls have been monumental of late.

This presents reporters, and media types like Dan Caplis, with the chance to pin down the candidates on the key issues. Would Harvey, for example, vote for a candidate who supported Ref. C, if another GOP candidate in the same race did not? That’s the kind of question that might bring some of the Both-Ways candidates out of the closet.

Reporters should ask Suthers: If your anti-gay legal brief isn’t anti-gay, what is it?

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has offered different explanations for filing a legal brief in support of a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that bars gay and lesbian married couples from receiving  federal marriage benefits. Reporters should find out what Suthers is really thinking.

Massachusetts is suing the federal government to enable gay couples, married there, to receive the same benefits given to other married couples, and Suthers’ office joined the feds in defending DOMA against the Massachusetts challenge.

On KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show, Suthers said Monday there was no anti-gay-marriage political agenda behind his action. It’s about federalism, he claimed.

He went on to say he’s trying to stop the feds from forcing Colorado to recognize a gay marriage performed in Massachusetts.

“I’m getting all kinds of grief about filing an amicus brief in Massachusetts’ constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act,” said Suthers on the radio. “And it’s very apparent to me that people are attributing political motives to me, being anti-gay marriage, when in fact I think this is another case that really bears upon federalism….We don’t want Massachusetts to be able to impose on the federal government or the state of Colorado its definition of marriage.”

So what’s motivating Suthers? The gay-marriage part? Or the states-rights/federalism part?

It’s confusing, especially to people like Brian Moulton, Chief Legislative Council for the Human Rights Campaign, which has been tracking the issue.

He told me that, in response to questions about the case, Suthers’ office has sent emails to constituents stating that Suthers decision to get involved in the Massachussets case was to defend Colorado’s Amendment 43, which defined marriage here as between a man and a woman. Moulton said that Suthers’ email stated that his office is obliged by law to defend Colorado’s laws, and that’s what he is doing.

Moulton told me:

“So certainly, at least initially, he was telling his constituents that he was defending Colorado’s marriage laws, and that was the initial response he gave to The Denver Post when they inquired about it. It’s all fine and good to say you’re concerned about federal involvement with the states….But certainly that was not the initial response of the AG’s office, and I’m finding it hard to square the circle. It’s hard to know which of the messages to believe.”

It’s particularly hard to square the circle because the case that Suthers has decided to join isn’t really about gay marriage. It’s about whether gay couples, who are already married in Massachusetts, have a legal right to federal marriage benefits.

We’re talking about stuff like allowing gay couples to be buried together (OMG, what will they do?) in a veterans’ cemetery and to get spousal benefits under Medicaid, according to Moulton.

Is Suthers, on behalf of the people of Colorado, saying gay couples from Massachusetts should not be allowed to be buried together in a veterans’ cemetery? We don’t know because neither Caplis nor Silverman asked him. But fortunately, Silverman promised on the radio to have Suthers back on the show to talk more about the DOMA issue.

Here are some questions Caplis and Silverman should ask him (And for you skeptics, these are the types of questions they ask regularly on the show.):

First, there’s the question above about how Suthers will feel if he successfully prevents gay veterans, married in Massachusetts, from being buried together.

Then there’s a question that flows from something both Moulton and Suthers’ office (as quoted in Tuesday’s The Denver Post) agree on: The Massachusetts case involving DOMA won’t invalidate Colorado’s marriage law, but, theoretically, if Massachusetts wins its case, Colorado’s ban on gay marriage could possibly be a little bit harder to defend down the road. Is it right to support a lawsuit that strips gay couples, married in another state, of the right to be buried together or to receive Medicaid benefits, simply because having those benefits might, theoretically, make Colorado’s ban on gay marriages slightly harder to defend? Does this put any stress on Suthers’ conscience?

Another question: If Suthers’ underlying motivation is related to states rights, why pick this case? As Moulton pointed out: “In this case, what Massachusetts is saying is, our state’s rights are being impinged upon because what the federal government is saying is, here’s some money for a federal program, but if you have to use it, you have to discriminate against some of your own lawfully married citizens under your own law. They are arguing that (DOMA) is infringing on their rights as a state. It does seem odd to have some other state [Colorado] say, no no, that’s not okay.”

And this question, posed by Moulton, gets to the heart of the matter: “At the end of the day, if what you’re really doing is just attacking Massachusetts because they’ve decided to stand up for their gay and lesbian married citizens, because you have some fear that one day in some hypothetical case that doesn’t exist, your marriage law might be in jeopardy, doesn’t this seem pretty mean-spirited and maybe not the best use of state resources right now in this time of fiscal stress?”

Partial Transcript of Appearance by Attorney General John Suthers on the Caplis and Silverman Show, 3 p.m. Hour, Feb. 1

Attorney General John Suthers: You know, you can’t get into these things based on what’s going to be the politically greatest route. I don’t know if you’re watching it today, but I’m getting all kinds of grief about filing an amicus brief in Massachusetts’ constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. And it’s very apparent to me that people are attributing political motives to me, just being anti-gay marriage, when in fact I think this is another case that really bears upon federalism. The federal government in DOMA is not attempting to define marriages under state law. In fact they say, we’re simply defining marriage for purposes of federal law and federal benefits and for our purposes, marriage is between a man and a woman. States are free to do what they want. Massachusetts says, you can’t define it between a man and a woman. That discriminates against our gay couples in Massachusetts. And we in Colorado, the voters in 2006, chose to define in our constitution marriage as between a man and a woman, and we support the federal government and the states as being able to define it for their own purposes, and we don’t want Massachusetts to be able to impose on the federal government or the state of Colorado with the definition of marriage.

Craig: Mr. A. G., we can’t go on that tangent, though it’s interesting, and we’d like to talk to you about it on another day that’s not so newsy.

Gessler says he authorized Biz Journal tip on moonlighting

Friday, January 28th, 2011

In a post Tuesday, I wrote that Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s claim to have divulged his intention to moonlight was untrue, given that someone tipped the Denver Businss Journal’s Ed Sealover to the story.

On yesterday’s Caplis and Silverman Show, Gessler said he, in fact, instructed someone to tell Sealover about the moonlighting plan.

Craig: Did you go to [Ed Sealover at the Denver Business Journal] or did he get a tip and confront you about the prospect of moonlighting?

Gessler: I think the answer is both. We know people in common, and asked someone to give him a contact and find out if he’d be interested in a story, and he was. And he came in and we chatted about it.

Craig: So the tip he got was from one of your allies who you told to tip him?

Gessler: Yeah, I think that’s fair to say.

Gessler’s old firm “very uncomfortable” with disclosing names of Gessler moonlighting clients

Friday, January 28th, 2011

It’s one thing for KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show to get deep into the political weeds when the show is ground zero of the GOP soap opera around a huge political race, like the campaign for governor.

It’s another for the show to continue to hide out in the weeds on legislative issues or Scott Gessler’s moonlighting. Caplis and Silverman are doing their best to make this stuff interesting, and I hope people during drive-time are paying attention.

Once again yesterday, the show broke news about Scott Gessler’s potential moonlighting.

Gessler said the negative response from his old law firm to the idea of disclosing the names of clients may kill the idea:

“I did say that I talked to my firm about the possibility — or the old firm — about the possibility of revealing who the clients are, and you can break news right now because I’ve not told anyone this, but they are very uncomfortable with that approach. I guess I can’t blam them. And so that’s another factor I have to think about, and it may ultimately mean that I don’t do this.”

Reporters should question how Gessler could take Hackstaff clients and avoid appearance of impropriety

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler tells The Denver Post that, if he moonlights for his former law firm, which specializes in election law, he’ll disclose the names of clients he’s working for.

But reporters should ask him if this solves his conflict-of-interest problems.

On KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman Show Monday, host Craig Silverman asked Gessler if his Hackstaff-Law-Group clients might have other work with the firm, outide of their narrow work with Gessler, that relates to the Secretary of State’s office. 

It’s a good question, because if Gessler’s clients were using the firm for an issue connected to the Secretary of State’s Office, even if Gessler himself works on a different case with them, then there would still be the appearance of a conflict of interest, because these clients would paying the Hackstaff Law Group for non-election-related work (access to Gessler included wink wink) and election-related work (no acess to Gessler included wink wink).

So you’d expect Gessler to have answered Silverman with an easy, yes, his clients’ entire body of work with the Hackstaff Law Group wouldn’t touch his state work at all.

But instead, Gessler answered, “Generally, yes,” meaning, as I see it, that some of his clients’ work with the Hackstaff Law Group might, in fact, involve the Secretary of State’s office:

Craig: What about clients whom you’d be working for? Would it be that they wouldn’t have any use for that law firm on any issue that could touch the Secretary of State’s Office.

Gessler: I think the answer is generally yes, generally yes. And from my knowledge of the firm, since I used to be part of it, there are a lot of clients there. They do a lot of transactional work.  But also litigation work, for example two people who have a property dispute or an appellate action where they are helping client that’s just very limited to a specific  project, whether it’s a specific litigation or Court of Appeals project or something along those lines that doesn’t touch the Secretary of State’s Office.

I wish Silverman had asked what “generally yes” means, but it’s not too late for him or a reporter to do so.

And there’s more to ask, while reporters are qizzing Gessler.

Even if all of the Hackstaff Law Group’s work with all of Gessler’s clients does not touch the Secretary of State’s office at the time they are working with moonlighting Gessler, what about later? What if his clients come to the firm a year later with a case involving the Secretary of State’s office? Would the Hackstaff Law Group reject their business, because they were tainted by their contact with Gessler, in a paid-client capacity, previously?

One could argue that clients may pay the Hackstaff Law Group to gain access to Gessler on a case about, say, property rights, with the intention of making Gessler feel more favorable toward them when they bring a future case, using the Hackstaff Law Group (wink wink), about an election issue.

These are questions about the appearance of impropriety, not accusations or expectations about impropriety. But they’re issues that journalists should address with Gessler.

A reporter, not Gessler, started the conversation on moonlighting

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler told KHOW radio’s Craig Silverman yesterday that he “purposely decided to have this conversation to start talking and telling the people of Colorado what was going on before” starting to moonlight for his old law firm.

But do you “purposely decide” to start conversation, if you have to be asked about it by a pesky journalist before you start talking about it?

I don’t think so.

In Gessler’s case, it was the Denver Business Journal that started the conversation by asking Gessler about his planned moonlighting.

“I was tipped to it by someone,” said The Journal’s Ed Sealover, who broke the story Friday. “And I approached him, and he agreed to sit down and talk.”

So Gessler should be giving himself credit not for starting the conversation, but for agreeing to continue it. The rest of us should be thanking Sealover for doing his job so well.

And once Sealover got Gessler ignited, other media types like Craig Silverman, have done a good job getting more information on the table, including Gessler’s statement that he hopes to do legal work at home with a sleeping toddler in the house. I wish Silverman had asked Gessler if he plans to add surcharge for pulling that off.

“I’m not hiding anything,” Gessler told Silverman yesterday. “And when it comes to conflicts and what not, most state legislators do stuff on the side, even though they are state legislators. There has been a lot of, well, several that I know, I haven’t fully researched it, but you know state-wide office holders who also had things on the side. And I think that’s appropriate. At the end of the day, we want people who have connections to the real world. We want people who face the same struggles that other people do, whether it’s family obligations or other things. I think I fit in that category, but you want people who face those and have those connections, and I think the difference between, or the reason why there is a lot of attention on me, is because I want to be up front about this. And I purposely decided to have this conversation to start talking and telling the people of Colorado what was going on before I did anything.”

Transcript of Scott Gessler Interview on the Caplis and Silverman Show, Monday, January 24, during the 5 p.m. hour.

Craig: Tell everybody about your background-. How long have you been a lawyer?

Gessler: I graduated from Michigan, passed the bar in 1990, so I guess you could say 21 years. I didn’t practice law during all of that time. There were about eight years in there where I primarily focused on business stuff and didn’t practice full time. So about 12, 13 years total full-time as a lawyer.

Craig: -How many employees do you have in the Office of the Secretary of State?

Gessler: We’ve got about 130 here-.

Craig: Tell us what you were doing before you ran for Secretary of State-.

Gessler: Well, I was a partner in a law firm, Hackstaff Gessler, now Hackstaff Law Group. I had done that, I was with a guy named Jim Hackstaff, for about five years, actually almost six now.

Craig: How big of a law firm was it?

Gessler: When I left there, which was a few weeks ago, we had I think about 10 attorneys and about 13, 14 people total.

Craig: Now the situation that’s gotten everybody talking about you, and it’s great for talk radio, so thanks for doing it, is you want to do some law work for your old law firm. Tell us in your own words how that came about.

Gessler:  Well, obviously I’ve got service to the state, and that’s very important to me, but I also have some family obligations. And so the current salary is a lot lower than what I had been making for quite a while so I wanted to, still want to, supplement that a little bit. So the challenge that I have had is to make sure there are no conflicts. So that anything I do is completely segregated from any election law work or anything that the Secretary of State does, that it’s temporary and focused in nature, so that I don’t have any conflicts. And then I also want to make sure that I don’t have the appearance of conflict. And my view on that is, right now I’m not doing anything. I’m not practicing or doing any work outside of the Secretary of State’s Office.  But I’ve sort of started this conversation, I’ve sort of revealed to everyone, obviously, what I’m thinking of doing. So I wanted to be really open and up front with that even before I do anything.  I know people talk about transparency a lot, and I want to make sure I am transparent.

Craig:  So this is not a done deal? You’re still thinking about doing it?

Gessler: I’m still thinking about it. I mean, I’m planning on doing it. I’ve asked the Attorney General to sort of give me their views on it as well, because I want another set of eyes on this. But I’m planning, I’m expecting to do it. At the end of the day, there has to be work for me to do. It has to be an area where there are not conflicts. And I still want to get another set of eyes to review that, too.

Craig: How would that work-?

Gessler: I’d be an independent contractor, and I’d pretty much be limited to sort of research and writing. So I wouldn’t represent anybody in court, or anything like that. It would pretty much be narrow research and writing. I’d be an independent contractor, for just very specific temporary projects that did not involve the Secretary of State’s Office.

Craig: What about clients whom you’d be working for? Would it be that they wouldn’t have any use for that law firm on any issue that could touch the Secretary of State’s Office.

Gessler: I think the answer is generally yes, generally yes. And from my knowledge of the firm, since I used to be part of it, there are a lot of clients there. They do a lot of transactional work.  But also litigation work, for example two people who have a property dispute or an appellate action where they are helping client that’s just very limited to a specific  project, whether it’s a specific litigation or Court of Appeals project or something along those lines that doesn’t touch the Secretary of State’s Office.

Craig: How much would be making per hour with this independent contractor work?

Gessler: I don’t know. I think that’s going to be on a case-by-case basis depending on what the rate is. But usually depending on what the hourly rate is that’s billed out, my sense is that I’d get about a third of that. So if it were $240 per hour, I’d bring in about $80 per hour.

Craig: Have you and your former partners researched this-?

Gessler: I did the research, spent a lot of time on it to cross the t’s and dot the I’s. That’s why I feel comfortable, like I’m on solid ground, certainly with the bar association and ethics. They put out a lot of formal opinions, researching the ethics rules. And they have a very long opinion talking about temporary attorneys and how that interacts with the law firm and the fact that you don’t become part of the law firm as long as you have the fire walls in place.

Craig: What about the appearance of impropriety-?

Gessler: Well, I think that’s a fair discussion to have, and that’s exactly why I put this out front and center, right away, early on, to tell people what I’m doing and make it very clear that I’m not involved in the election law activity and that they aren’t sharing things with me. I’m not advising them or giving them any strategy. And at the end of the day, and they know this as well because we’ve had these conversations. I mean, I think they are great attorneys and they’ll do great work for anyone, but if, for example, they sue the Secretary of State’s Office, I intend to win that lawsuit. You could be friends away from the courtroom, but when it comes to the courtroom, my first is to the people of the state of Colorado and to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Craig: -You have a big job-How do you have time to do more [than run the Secretary of State’s Office]?

Gessler: Well, what I’m looking to do is spend no more than about five hours every weekend. So this is not a huge number of hours that I’m looking at. It’s pretty limited. It’s what I think is sort of the minimum that I need to do to square my family obligations and state service. I’ve been very clear, I’m not asking from anything from the taxpayer, except the opportunity to do a small amount on the side.  And the other think I would say is this. Look, I’m being up front about this. I’m not hiding anything. And when it comes to conflicts and what not, most state legislators do stuff on the side, even though they are state legislators. There has been a lot of, well, several that I know, I haven’t fully researched it, but you know state-wide office holders who also had things on the side. And I think that’s appropriate. At the end of the day, we want people who have connections to the real world. We want people who face the same struggles that other people do, whether it’s family obligations or other things. I think I fit in that category, but you want people who face those and have those connections, and I think the difference between, or the reason why there is a lot of attention on me, is because I want to be up front about this. And I purposely decided to have this conversation to start talking and telling the people of Colorado what was going on before I did anything.

Craig: Would you agree that if you worked 20 hours on the weekend, it would carry over to your ability to be Secretary of State-?

Gessler: You know, I think that’s a valid point. What I’m looking at is something pretty limited to five hours a weekend where I can do this at home. So I sort of have the flexibility to be at home if I need to spend 10 minutes here or something, while the baby’s, a toddler now…-she always tells us she’s not a baby anymore…-So if she’s sleeping, or something along those lines, I can be there.  So, yeah, if it were 20 hours a week or 40 hours a week, yeah, I think you’re right. I’m looking at something five hours a weekend.

Craig: Without question, a lot of practicing lawyers serve in the state house-.But isn’t that a part-time position in the Legislature and weren’t you elected to a full-time job?

Gessler: Well, I think some of the legislators, and my heart goes out to them, because I think, really, for a lot of them, it’s a full-time position. I mean, they are answering constituent concerns year round, they are meeting in committees year round, but your point is right. I mean, we thoroughly expect people to be sort of citizen legislators. But I think, you know, as a matter in the past, I mean we’ve got sort of citizen executive-branch people too. You know, if you’re still focused on the Secretary of State’s Office, which I am, and I will continue to be, and you are not burdening yourself in such a way that you cannot spend the time on it. And if you’re also making good decisions. I mean, yes, there are 130 people here, but I don’t think we want a Secretary of State who’s going to assume responsibility for, you know, every time the toilet flushes to make sure everything is right. I mean, we’ve got great staff here that do good jobs. And my job is to sort of make sure that this office is headed in the policy directions that we need to be headed in, that we’re doing the right thing along those lines, that I am reviewing what staff is doing and helping tweak it, or make sure things are running well.  Yeah, that’s a busy job, but I think we also recognize that it’s not like I’m working, or any executive branch officer, works 200 hours per week. It’s supposed to be manageable. And to be honest with you, if I didn’t have to do this on the side, I wouldn’t.

Craig: -ProgressNow is saying resign from the Secretary of State Office, Scott Gessler. Is there any chance of that-?

Gessler: I’m not resigning. ProgressNow, they’ve got their job to do, which is attack Republicans. They are going to do that anyway. Here’s a group that screams for transparency, and I provide transparency and they scream louder. So that ain’t going to happen. I’ll go to plan B and I’ll look into maybe teaching at a university. I’ve taught election law at the CU Law School in the past. Maybe something along those lines. I will find a way to figure it out.