Scott Gessler, Colorado's chief election officer, facing criminal and ethics investigations
When the accusations were first leveled against his office, Gessler's spokesman told us that his office did not break any laws because public dollars were only used for official Secretary of State business and suggested that the accusations represented a partisan attack.
He adds that his office has seen no official complaints from either entity. The DA's office explains that in a financial investigation like this, there is no official communication with the DA's office and the person being investigated.
The Independent Ethics Commission also announced yesterday that the complaint from Ethics Watch is "not frivolous" and thus directed the Commission staff to investigate the matter.
"We're not surprised, but we are pleased," said Luis Toro, director of Ethics Watch. "Elected officials often don't hold each other accountable...so it's an act of political courage for the DA to take this on, and we salute him for it."
Toro says that the investigation could lead to a range of charges, from a misdemeanor offense to official misconduct to falsification of public records. At worst, Gessler could be charged with embezzlement of state funds, a felony that would require Gessler to step down. But Toro says the investigation will dig up the evidence necessary to determine the seriousness of any possible offense.
Toro says he doesn't think the timing of these announcements should impact voters' faith in the system, despite the fact that reports of a key swing states' chief election officer facing multiple investigations broke on the eve of election day.
"Of course, it is concerning, but we have to remember that there's a lot more to running an election than the Secretary of State," he says. "There's county clerks, election judges, and many many people who can be checks and balances."
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