We’re obliged to note Westword’s report out yesterday:
Secretary of State Scott Gessler has faced a lot of pushback for his efforts to identify immigrants who are illegally on Colorado’s voter rolls. But over the summer, those criticisms escalated to a new level when he received multiple violent threats, some targeting his family. Through an Open Records request, we now have new details on one disturbing phone call and the subsequent investigation — and more information is expected this week.
While the threats took place over the summer — and death threats toward politicians are not all that uncommon — these cases have a lot of significance now and will continue to be important in the coming months.
Because Gessler, a Republican and the state’s chief election officer, is currently the focus of criminal and ethics investigations, both the result of complaints from Colorado Ethics Watch, a watchdog group that has closely scrutinized Gessler on a number of issues. Based on open records requests it filed with the Secretary of State’s office, in October Ethics Watch alleged that Gessler had misused state funds for travels outside the scope of his office.
As Westword’s Sam Levin reports, a call placed to the state’s election information line last August turned into a long rant about the letters Gessler sent over the summer to registered voters he dubiously “suspected” may not be citizens. The caller said Republicans “should be shot in the head,” and indicated that “many people” know where Gessler’s family lives.
The call was investigated by the CBI, but Denver DA Mitch Morrissey declined to press charges. Investigation reportedly reveals this person made a similar threat toward Rep. Doug Lamborn last year, and Levin’s retelling of the CBI report paints a picture of a harmless, albeit very stupid, crackpot. That said, we don’t think anyone will dispute the necessity of taking any such threats made against the Secretary of State or his family seriously.
In terms of the investigation(s) underway regarding Gessler’s alleged misuse of discretionary funds, however, Westword’s Open Records Act request explains only one detail among numerous questionable incidents–from using these funds to attend partisan events at all, to “sweeping” the account empty at fiscal year’s end in a check to himself. Sympathy for Gessler over threats made against him or his family, which we’ll say again are totally unacceptable, doesn’t extend to excusing unethical or illegal behavior on his part.
But if any of you happen to recognize this crackpot, please let him know he’s not helping.