Scott Gessler's suit against Ethics Commission about protecting his rights, spokesman says
Welcome to another round of the back-and-forth between Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the Independent Ethics Commission. In response to an IEC investigation launched in November, Gessler, as represented by attorney David Lane, is seeking a temporary restraining order; see it below. Gessler spokesman Andrew Cole says the suit was filed in "an attempt to protect the secretary's rights."
As we've reported, Colorado Ethics Watch -- an organization that says it's nonpartisan but its opponents call left-leaning -- obtained internal documents through open-records request that show, in its view, that Gessler misused public funds.
How? Gessler attended a Republican National Lawyers Association election-law training in Sarasota, Florida in August, and then went to Tampa, Florida to spend the week there during the Republican National Convention. His request for reimbursements (a total of $1,452.52) says the nature of the spending was not "personal or political," Colorado Ethics Watch maintains.
As a result of CEW's complaints, the Independent Ethics Commission launched an investigation, while Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey is looking into whether or not Gessler committed any crimes -- something the Secretary of State has denied since the allegations first surfaced.
Photo by Sam Levin Gessler at a press conference last year.
The latest suit argues that the Independent Ethics Commission "has exceeded its jurisdiction granted to it by Amendment 41," a measure in the Colorado Constitution that focuses on a "gift ban, lobbying bans or influence peddling."
By "asserting broad jurisdiction over an ethics complaint against the Secretary, which cites potential violations of three criminal statutes" unrelated to Amendment 41, the IEC has gone beyond its mandate, the suit maintains. The potentially far-reaching effects are detailed in the following excerpt:
The Secretary will suffer irreparable harm, as the Commission has hauled him in before the tribunal, subjected him to evolving and substandard procedures, and forced him to respond to criminal (or some other unspecified legal) allegations over which the Commission clearly has no jurisdiction. This illegal assertion of jurisdiction also has harmed or will harm the Secretary's reputation and his ability to carry out his official duties as he sees fit. Preliminary-injunctive relief is appropriate, because monetary damages are likely unavailable, an injunction will preserve the status quo pending a trial on the merits, and the public interest is served by reigning in agencies that act beyond their authority.Spokesman Cole elaborates in more laymen-friendly terms.
Continue for more about Scott Gessler's lawsuit against the Independent Ethics Commission, including the complete document.