Scott Gessler should be investigated for misuse of public funds, says Colorado Ethics Watch


Rich Coolidge, Gessler's spokesman, says that the Ethics Watch complaint is nothing but a liberal attack against a Republican Secretary of State.

"This is the kind of partisan behavior Ethics Watch is known for. It shouldn't come as a surprise that they would attack a Republican Secretary of State, just as they have in the past," he says in an e-mail to us. writes via e-mail.

Thumbnail image for Scott Gessler and Rich Coolidge.JPG
Sam Levin
Rich Coolidge and Scott Gessler at a food truck stop last week to meet a participant in his voter registration campaign.
Asked for follow-up on the public nature of the spending, he writes, "The Secretary received thorough continuing legal education on current election issues being debated around the country."

He says public funds were used for the RNLA conference and adds, "No public funds were used for the RNC costs."

Additionally, as reported by the Associated Press last week, death threats were apparently made against Gessler's family in August, prompting an early return home from the RNC in Tampa. The Denver Post reported that Gessler cited "specific, very violently graphical threats against my wife and my daughter" as a result of someone upset with his actions as the Secretary of State.

Coolidge writes to us:

Our chief of staff determined that due to those security threats the office needed to pay the plane ticket difference to have the secretary return home earlier to be with his family. For CEW to insinuate that the Secretary is somehow leveraging a threat against his family shows how distasteful this group truly is.
In response to the issue of death threats, Toro says, "I'm very sympathetic.... We don't condone violence."

But he argues that Gessler's office is using that as a distraction, since the costs to return are only a part of his alleged misuse of funds.

At this point, Toro says, it is unclear exactly how the funds were used and how they may have carried over into Gessler's time at the RNC -- which is why an investigation is needed.

A spokeswoman for the DA's office says that upon receipt of the letter from Ethics Watch, officials will review the allegation to determine whether a criminal investigation is warranted. (DPD referred us to the DA's office). And a representative from the Ethics Commission says it doesn't comment on complaints before the commission has reviewed them.

Coolidge also takes an overall swipe at the group for launching partisan attacks and consistently protecting left-leaning groups. "CEW has been linked to the Colorado Democracy Alliance and has a long track record of targeting only Republicans," he writes. "CEW's silence on issues speaks louder than its usual partisan attacks."

But Toro says that in this case, Ethics Watch is simply investigating all statewide elected officials for this kind of misuse of funds. For example, he says the organization also looked into Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, who has been a surrogate for President Obama and traveled to Charlotte for the DNC. In that case, Toro says, Ethics Watch found no misuse of funds by Hickenlooper.

"We do want public officials to know they are being watched," he says.

Continue for the full letter and complaints from Ethics Watch

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3 comments
angela_engel
angela_engel

What is with Republicans criticizing government employees and then misusing taxpayer dollars for personal benefit. This bilking the public seems to be a common theme for conservatives in both private and public sectors. A perfect illustration of the fox guarding the hen house.

 

Fred Kaplan
Fred Kaplan

The main issue should be the potential misuse of govenment funds. From reading the article he did what many politicians do: Plan a trip to one event so that they could also attend another event with the taxpayers picking up the majority of the tab. His going to a Republican Lawyer conference seems to violate ethics in that it was specific for Republicans and does not seem to be an open forum or one that a DEmocrat or Lbertarian would be welcome.

jraiffie
jraiffie

@SamTLevin have, funny @COEthicsWatch is desperate so is the left. Harder to cheat now thanks to @scottgessler

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