UPDATE #3: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:
Secretary of State Gessler filed paperwork to run for governor on Thursday, two days after reimbursing the state nearly $1,300 for a political trip to Florida last year.
His political director, Rory McShane, said Gessler's decision to reimburse the money — which led to an ethics complaint against the Republican office-holder — has nothing do with his election plans…
UPDATE #2: In a obviously closely related development, Stokols now reporting that Gessler has officially filed paperwork to run for governor in 2014.
UPDATE: FOX 31's Eli Stokols:
“After many months of attempting to defend himself from this political attack, it became obvious that the Ethics Commission simply wasn’t going to give the Secretary a fair hearing,” Gessler’s spokesman, Andrew Cole, told FOX31 Denver.
“So he decided to pay the money back in an effort to move on from this episode and get back to work for the people of Colorado.”
Big news today in the ongoing ethics and criminal investigation against Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler. A press release we received moments ago from Colorado Ethics Watch explains:
After nearly seven months of defending himself, and reportedly charging the state more than $60,000 in legal defense bills, Secretary of State Scott Gessler has reimbursed the State of Colorado $1278.90 for state money spent on a political trip to Florida in 2012.
Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission in October asking the IEC to investigate and determine whether Gessler misappropriated state funds for personal or political use when he was reimbursed for travel to a Republican election law training event and the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August. In response to the complaint, the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) investigated the transactions. The Denver District Attorney also announced in November that he would launch a criminal investigation.
“We’re pleased that the Secretary finally did what he should have done months ago – repay the state for funds used to attend a Republican Party event,” said Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “This should send a message to all elected officials that public funds are not for personal or political use.”
It would appear that Gessler has given up the long and costly fight to defend his use of office discretionary funds on what has every appearance of partisan political purposes–the national conference of the National Republican Lawyers Association, and the immediately-following Republican National Convention last summer.
It's possible that conceding defeat and repaying these funds will help Gessler put this ethics and criminal investigation behind him ahead of a possible run for governor next year. We'll see what the IEC and Denver DA do with this, but another way to look at it is an admission of guilt after a lengthy and embarrassing public spectacle.
And that's not so good for one's political career either, folks.