Scott Gessler investigation: Ethics Commission denies dismissal request, pushes forward
The attorneys for Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who is accused of misusing state funds, have said there are many reasons why the case should be dismissed. The Independent Ethics Commission disagrees, voting yesterday to reject the dismissal requests. That means the investigation will continue -- but Gessler maintains that the complaint against him is nothing more than an unjust attack.
In October, Colorado Ethics Watch, an advocacy group that has closely scrutinized the Republican Secretary of State, accused Gessler of using public dollars to go to partisan events in Florida. The group has also alleged that Gessler, Colorado's chief election officer, may have unlawfully flushed out his remaining discretionary funds at the end of the fiscal year without offering receipts for reimbursements.
Gessler, who has said he is confident he will be exonerated, offered his first formal response in a December filing to the Independent Ethics Commission, or IEC. In it, he argued at length that state money was only used for official business and that his reimbursements have always been appropriate.
Sam Levin Scott Gessler in his office.
In that response, he also asked the IEC -- which had given him an extension for the filing -- to dismiss the case altogether.
In the dismissal motion (see it below), Gessler's legal team offered many reasons why the IEC should drop the matter. But yesterday, the commission voted unanimously that none of the arguments from Gessler merit a dismissal, says Jane Feldman, its executive director.
Feldman says the IEC held five different votes related to possible grounds for dismissal, and in each case, all the members felt there was not a legitimate reason to drop the case. That means Feldman will continue with her investigation and likely offer a report at the commission's next meeting, on February 4. At that time, the IEC will review her findins, after which the case could then be set for a hearing.
"The commission was right to go forward with the investigation," says Peg Perl, staff counsel for Colorado Ethics Watch, who attended the meeting yesterday. "We...think that the IEC had the constitutional responsibility to investigate this matter. It's already been determined that it's not frivolous. We came in...hoping they would take that responsibility seriously and not cut it off prematurely.... This showed they are committed in following through."
Continue for more details on the IEC decision and the original filings from Gessler's legal team.