BREAKING: “Bo” Ortiz Wins Big For Pueblo Voters

Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert

Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz.

Following court action today, a major development in the Senate District 3 recall election against Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo–as a press release this evening from Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz explains:

Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz announced today that Senate District 3 voters can begin casting their ballots for the recall election beginning tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the Pueblo Elections Division, 720 N. Main Street. That decision comes on the heels of a court decision today in Ortiz’s favor on several issues.

Ortiz argued that in order to provide better access, voters should be able to get a no-excuses absentee ballot to vote in the recall election, they could provide a yellow voter postcard as ID at the polls to process voters faster and overturn language that would have required military and students to meet a stricter residency ruling than other voters. Denver District Judge Robert McGahey ruled in Ortiz’s favor on all counts.

“Today is a good day for voters. This will free up access to the polls for voters, apply fair rules on residency requirements to vote and cut down on lines through September 10,” said Ortiz.

The favorable rulings, turning back arguments from GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler, mean that early voting in Pueblo will begin tomorrow, continue on Labor Day and all of next week, and–this marking a major development from the prior status quo–absentee ballots may be requested by all voters through September 3rd. FOX 31's Eli Stokols has the reaction from Gessler:

Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office told FOX31 it has no problem with Ortiz’s decision to open early voting centers.

But Gessler was disappointed in Judge Robert McGahey’s rulings Thursday morning throwing out his proposed rules for the recall: one which requires limited access for mail ballots; and another that would have required voters to declare their intent to make the address on their voter registration form their permanent address to prevent so-called gypsy voters.

Gessler may not like it, but Judge Robert McGahey was unequivocal that the rule imposed by Gessler to deal with the chimeral issue of so-called "gypsy voters" was beyond his authority. Much more sinister in our opinion is Gessler's objection to absentee ballots being available on a "no excuses" basis.  El Paso County, where the other recall election is taking place, can't print ballots until a challenge from the Libertarian candidate to the insufficiency ruling on her petitions is resolved. But if Pueblo is able to proceed, there's no good reason why they shouldn't be allowed to deliver a mail ballot to anybody who asks for one. There's no "uniformity" at risk with entirely separate recall elections that just happen to be on the same date.

And again, as good county clerks know, these questions should always be resolved by making voting work.

Pam Anderson Still Weighing SOS Run

Jeffco Clerk Pam Anderson (R).

Jeffco Clerk Pam Anderson (R).

Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson is apparently still weighing a decision to run for Secretary of State and seek the Republican nomination in 2014. While she hasn't decided what she would do if there is an open seat on the GOP side, she made it clear to Our Colorado News that she wouldn't challenge incumbent Republican Scott Gessler should he forego a run for Governor and instead tackle re-election:

Anderson said that she will “not run against an incumbent,” but that she is keeping all options on the table if Gessler steps aside to pursue a higher office.

“I’m still discussing with my family whether it’s the right thing for me to do personally, to run a statewide campaign,” she said.

Anderson is the head of the Colorado County Clerk’s Association and is seen by many in the GOP establishment as a moderate Republican who would be a change of pace from Gessler, who often is embroiled in controversy and who is seen as a lightning rod in Colorado politics.

“There’s lot of people who I respect and admire, and my county clerks that I work with all the time, who I think would be very supportive (of a secretary of state run),” Anderson said. “And the idea is very appealing to me, because I love this stuff.”

Reading between the lines here, we'd venture to guess that Anderson would likely jump into the race should Gessler announce that he won't run for re-election. Anderson would be a tough opponent for Democrat Joe Neguse, and would at least initially be considered a favorite to win the General Election if she could avoid a primary from the right-wing of the GOP.

Gessler’s Latest “Illegal Voters” Evaporate On Examination

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

As the Boulder Daily Camera's Erica Meltzer reports:

Last month, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler gave Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett a list of 17 names, all suspected of voting in the November election despite being non-citizens.

Those names were among 155 people identified statewide as possible illegal voters.

But an investigation by Garnett's office found that all 17 people were citizens and were able to easily verify their status, the district attorney said Wednesday…

"Local governments and county clerks do a really good job regulating the integrity of elections, and I'll stand by that record any day of the week," Garnett said. "We don't need state officials sending us on wild goose chases for political reasons." [Pols emphasis]

Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler's years-long quest for "illegal voters" on the Colorado rolls has consistently ended in embarrassing failure, ever since his first dire warnings of ten thousand or more "illegal voters" in 2011. Verification that all 17 voters turned over to the Boulder County DA are in fact legal citizens is just the latest example of the absolutely pitiful return on Gessler's large investment of time and resources on this non-problem.

Meanwhile, other problems his office is directly responsible, like the failure of the state's mobile voter registration website to record hundreds of registrations, are brushed off as "inevitable glitches." The right-wing media and friendly organizations like True the Vote who sing Gessler's praises for the big scary numbers he throws around are silent when the truth comes out, and Gessler is found to be wasting everyone's time. The fact is, Gessler has done more to disprove the right's endless allegations of voter fraud in American elections than most of his opponents, but you'll never hear that from True the Vote. The true purpose for Gessler and conservative "vote fraud watchdogs" in these witch hunts, sowing doubt in the process and chilling participation by perfectly legal citizens, provides an ongoing raison d'être no matter what the facts are.

At this point, we believe Gessler depends on the outcome getting less attention.

Gessler To Morse: Let Me “Edit” That For You

As the Colorado Independent’s Tessa Cheek reports:

ON WEDNESDAY, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office signed off on ballot language for the state’s first-ever lawmaker recall election, where Democratic state Senate President John Morse will effectively face Republican City Council Member Bernie Herpin.

The Morse campaign doesn’t like the ballot language and believes the Republican secretary of state may have worked to tilt the scales in the race, stripping out language Morse submitted to be included.

But the Herpin campaign argues the Secretary didn’t go far enough. In a release the campaign charges that, in the language Morse submitted to the secretary, he “violated state law” by making false assertions about Herpin and about Basic Freedom Defense Fund — the group organized to promote recall of Morse mainly in response to his support for gun-control legislation last spring.

The recall campaigns, launched months ago, have been characterized by regularly erupting similar back-and-forths and there may be many more to come over the four weeks leading to Election Day on September 10.

Specifically, reports the Independent, GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office “edited” two statements from Morse’s ballot language–an allegation about a “junket” de facto opponent Bernie Herpin took as a Colorado Springs city councilor, and an accusation that Herpin “opposed criminal background checks, a position so extreme it would allow felons and domestic abusers to buy guns.” We don’t know very much about the first allegation–we will soon enough–but on the matter of Herpin’s opposition to background checks, we can tell you that he is the founder of the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition. That organization certainly appears to oppose background checks:

Finally, we firmly believe that exercising one’s right to bear arms should not justify being identified on any government list, as precedence has shown time and again that agreeing to “reasonable controls” has only resulted in the continuing and irrevocable infringement by the government on the rights of the individual. [Pols emphasis]

Also, you can read Herpin’s own guest editorial against 2000′s Amendment 22, the initiative closing the “background check loophole” at gun shows passed with overwhelming voter support after the mass shooting at Columbine High School. It’s not available online anymore, but it’s not equivocal:

First, there is no such thing as a “gun-show loophole.” [Pols emphasis] Federal law explicitly and intentionally exempts the private sale of firearms from federal regulation. Lawmakers recognize that sales and exchanges of goods and services between private individuals are not subject to the control or scrutiny of the government. They also recognize that such laws are unenforceable at best and threats to personal liberty at worst.

This would seem to validate the charge that Herpin “opposes criminal background checks.”

Once you accept that, then yes, Gessler’s “edit” is a real problem. And Gessler’s well-earned reputation for shenanigans as the state’s chief elections officer makes it pretty easy to throw the penalty flag.

GOP Gubernatorial Websites: Good, Bad, and Ugly

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo rolled out his new campaign website yesterday:

tanc2014logo

Greg Brophy strikes a pose.

Greg Brophy strikes a pose.

Overall, Tancredo probably has the best website of the three GOP gubernatorial candidates designwise, although we have to say we're captivated by the scowling photo of primary opponent Greg Brophy now featured at gregforgovernor.com. As for the third Republican contender (so far) in the race, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, his website just plain sucks, like it hasn't been updated since 2006–and that's before the hapless visitor is left to wonder which office Gessler is actually running for, something his website completely fails to help one resolve.

gessler4sos

After all, Gessler hasn't completely decided if this whole governor's race thing is a "good fit!" So we assume the website will get updated, or not as the case may be, once he's made up his mind.

And yes, if any other Republicans throw their hat in the ring, we'll give their sites a link too.

Gessler’s Ethics Scandal Cost Taxpayers (At Least) $122,000

FRIDAY UPDATE: Maddow Blog's Laura Conaway graphically summarizes:

If you're keeping track at home, the defense-to-fine ration is about 43:1, rounding down. Just for fun — because anything this expensive ought to be fun — my colleague Steve Benen charted the amount taxpayers have spent defending Gessler and the amount of the fine.

gesslerchart_lg2

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Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

A press release from Colorado Ethics Watch this afternoon:

Today, Colorado Ethics Watch released the results of an open records request to the Secretary of State's office, revealing that the outside lawyers who represented Scott Gessler in his defense before the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) charged the state $122,218.10 through June 30, 2013.  Scott Gessler was unsuccessful in his attempt to avoid being held accountable by the IEC for misusing public funds for a personal trip to the Republican National Convention and a Republican lawyers' convention in 2012.

The legal bills for the defense of Scott Gessler nearly double the legal budget of the Ethics Commission itself ($69,525), and the appeal by Gessler’s attorneys will surely continue to cost taxpayers.

On June 19, the bi-partisan IEC entered its written findings and conclusions regarding Ethics Watch's complaint against Gessler for misusing public funds, ruling that Gessler had "breached the public trust for private gain in using public funds for personal and political purposes." The IEC levied a fine of $1514.88 in addition to the $1278.90 Gessler paid back on the eve of the hearing, the maximum amount allowed by law.  During the months before the hearing, Gessler's legal team filed numerous motions with the IEC – none of which were permitted by the IEC's rules but all of which were nevertheless considered by the Commission – and a failed lawsuit to attempt to block the IEC from even investigating the issues raised in Ethics Watch's complaint. Through a public records request, Ethics Watch has now learned the amount spent on the defense. In addition, the same lawyers are now handling Gessler's appeal, costing the state even more money.

"Our ethics system is extremely unbalanced when a state official who misused public funds is allowed to spend more than $122,000 on lawyers to defend the indefensible, while those who file the complaint are expected to prosecute the case without any taxpayer support whatsoever," said Luis Toro, Director of Ethics Watch. [Pols emphasis] "In this case, Scott Gessler was caught red-handed and even the best trial lawyer in the state could not get him off the hook. But the system we have now is not what the voters expected when they created the Ethics Commission. The legislature must step in and level the playing field so that Colorado citizens can exercise their right to ask the IEC whether a violation has occurred, and get an investigation without having to face the best defense the state treasury can buy. When the legislature convenes in January, they should hold hearings to find out how these lawyers were allowed to run up enormous bills with no oversight, and to change the law so that the ethics investigation process is no longer overwhelmingly biased in favor of the public official suspected of misconduct."

Click here for more documentation from Colorado Ethics Watch, including bills to the state from three law firms involved with Secretary of State Scott Gessler's unsuccessful defense before the Independent Ethics Commission. For new readers, this is the ethics commission case where Gessler was found to have "breached the public trust for private gain," and fined the maximum amount–roughly $2,800. That's $122,000 billed to taxpayers to protect Gessler from a $2,800 fine. An awfully bad return on investment, don't you think? 

Folks, why shouldn't Gessler, now a GOP candidate for governor, be expected to pay all $122,000 back?

Fun With Photoshop: “The Three Stooges”

Emailed to us today, and we just about spat our coffee. A meme for the upcoming GOP gubernatorial primary?

threestooges2014_2_md

We might have had Secretary of State Scott Gessler (right) play Moe, but otherwise this is more or less perfect.

Recalls Will Proceed; Special Election Day September 10th

UPDATE #4: In a joint press release, the campaigns of Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron announce that they will not appeal today's decision by Denver District Court.

Today, the Denver District Court determined the recall election should proceed despite our constitutional concerns.  A September 10th election date has been set.  Both campaigns have decided they will not appeal the Denver District Court decision. 

We appreciate the opportunity to have all the arguments heard and a full discussion of the merits of the case. 

“I am ready and eager for the September 10th election.  This last legislative session was my best yet and this is a great opportunity to continue talking to folks in Pueblo about all our successes.  In the meantime, I continue to work hard and represent Pueblo,” said Sen. Angela Giron. 

President Morse added, “I started working for this community as a EMT, paramedic or police officer in 1977.  I have dedicated my life to public service.  I look forward to this election.  I have already been elected twice, I am excited by the prospect of being elected a third time.” 

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UPDATE #3: Gov. John Hickenlooper sets the date for both recall elections: Tuesday, September 10th.

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UPDATE #2: Scott Gessler's writ of mandamus is denied: Judge Hyatt rules that Hickenlooper was right to wait for judicial review. The Colorado Supreme Court may still issue a stay; otherwise, says Judge Hyatt, "the clock begins running now" for Gov. Hickenlooper to set a recall date.

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UPDATE: Denver District Judge Robert Hyatt rules in favor of recall organizers on constitutional language question; that ruling is subject to appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court. Still awaiting word on Gessler's motion to force an immediate election date.

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Gessler Hires Ex-Hackstaff Lawyer To Harass Hickenlooper

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

Keeping it in the family, the Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports:

Republican Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has hired an attorney with ties to his old law firm to file a bold court order against Gov. John Hickenlooper in an effort to force the governor to set election dates in the recalls of two Democratic state lawmakers.

In a writ of mandamus, filed in Denver District Court over the weekend by attorney Steven Klenda, Gessler asks for an “expedited/emergency hearing” because Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has “refused to perform his constitutional duty to set a date for an election to recall” Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo…

FOX 31's Eli Stokols explains the backstory, and reported the news first:

Generally, Republicans believe that the Democrats’ strategy is to delay the process as much as possible.

Democrats, on the other hand, believe that Republicans want the election set before the end of summer — and the return of students at Colorado College, something that could tip the scales in an election.

That Gessler’s office would file suit has an obvious political subtext: Gessler is likely to challenge Hickenlooper for the governorship next fall.

The Post's Lee did note an important detail that Stokols missed, though it's obvious: Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a likely gubernatorial candidate in 2014, didn't use the Attorney General's office to file this suit. There are a few possible explanations for that, but the most obvious ones indeed make this appear to be politically motivated. That would, of course, be consistent with behavior from Gessler throughout the recall process.

The bottom line is that Gov. John Hickenlooper believes the "clock" mandating the setting of an election date per the state constitution should start after legal challenges are resolved, while those seeking to recall Senators John Morse and Angela Giron want it set as quickly as possible, regardless of the status of those legal challenges. In Morse's case, the students at Colorado College, located in SD-11, weigh heavily into both sides' strategy. Residence halls at Colorado College begin to open to students in late August, with classes beginning September 2nd. Morse needs those student voters–and Republicans need them to not be there.

There are two distinct issues in play here, but the common theme for Gessler appears to be pure political advantage: in the short run to help the recalls succeed, and in the long run to use the whole business against Hickenlooper in his gubernatorial campaign next year. We'll update as this story develops.

Recall Attorney Asks “Honey Badger’s” Office To Recuse

UPDATE 5:00PM: As expected, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert (R) rules against the constitutional challenge to Morse's recall petition. The case will now move to district court.

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UPDATE: The Colorado Independent's Tessa Cheek supplies useful additional backstory:

Gessler and Morse also have a history of butting heads.

Morse spearheaded a move in 2011 to draw $4 million in surplus funds from the Secretary’s office. The cash was offered to the General Assembly by Gessler’s Democratic predecessor but the move was opposed by Gessler and his Republican supporters at the capitol.

Buescher was a frugal administrator, Morse said during debate over the proposal, referencing reports that Gessler had complained about his new public-sector salary. “This is the same secretary of state who said he couldn’t live on $68,500 a year.”

Morse later became the subject of a headline-grabbing but ultimately dismissed ethics complaint capitol insiders suspected was at least encouraged by Gessler. The Colorado Statesman reported that Stephanie Cegielski, the author of the complaint, was a conservative-political activist with past ties to Gessler. Cegielski dedicated half of the ethics complaint she filed against Morse concerning his per diem spending to “criticizing Morse for going after funds in the Secretary of State’s office,” as The Statesman, put it.

Christine Le Lait, campaign manager for A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, said the conflict of interest issues raised by the recent protest to the recall petitions should train a spotlight on the secretary’s office…

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Honey badgers (plural).

Honey badgers (plural).

A bit of drama today at the Secretary of State's office today, where attorneys seeking the disqualification of recall petitions against Colorado Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron on constitutional grounds asked for Scott Gessler's office to recuse itself from the process entirely. The request is based (in part) on a trip Gessler took to Pueblo last March, more or less providing advice to recall organizers. FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Gessler, who walked out of his office and encountered reporters following the hearing, declined to comment on the suggestion that he was biased in favor of the recall organizers and that his own bias was shared by his deputy.

Staiert, who didn’t expect attorneys to even show up for Wednesday’s scheduled protest hearing in the Giron case — because Grueskin’s argument to disqualify Giron recall petitions is the same as what he laid out last week in the Morse hearing, both sides had agreed to forgo a formal hearing and submit briefs by email — said that she and Gessler have never discussed either recall case…

Richard Westfall, the attorney representing the groups trying to recall Morse and Giron, told reporters that there’s no proof that Gessler’s bias extends to Staiert.

“She is the one who’s the hearing officer, she is the one making the decision,” he said. “I don’t think any allegations regarding the Secretary — there’s no indication that there’s any bias by the deputy secretary who’s hearing the protest.”

Deputy Secretary Suzanne Staiert, a former Littleton City Attorney, as Stokols reports has been a vocal supporter of Gessler during his recent ethics complaint and subsequent admonishment for having "breached the public trust for private gain"–to the point of raging against the Independent Ethics Commission as a "kangaroo court" on Gessler's behalf, part of a series of Tweets that were deleted from Staiert's account sometime before the recall hearings began. This undeniably creates the appearance that they share a personal, or at least partisan loyalty.

Bottom line: regardless of how the Secretary of State's office rules, this is in all likelihood headed to court, as the losing party on either side is virtually certain to appeal. But it's useful once again to point out the rank partisanship, and partisan actors, at least initially in charge of Colorado's elections process. Not just for his trip to Pueblo to talk to recall organizers, neither Gessler nor anyone who reports to him should get the final word here.

And we'll say it: this is why you hear more talk about nonpartisan elections administration in Colorado these days.

“So There!” Gessler Blows Off County Clerks, Ditches Summer Meeting

Still-Secretary-of-State-with-an-eye-on-the-door Scott ("Honeybadger") Gessler has decided that those who have spurned his efforts are not as important as other things.  The elected official tasked with overseeing elections has ditched the bi-partisan Colorado County Clerk Association's Summer Conference. County Clerks are the elected officials tasked with carrying out the elections, under the oversight of the Secretary of State, who has apparently taken his ball and moved on. 

Nonetheless, its exactly the kind of event that one might expect the Secretary of State to attend (rather than, say, a partisan Republican 'how-to' conference).  The County Clerks are not pleased. 

“We are not pleased,”

Colorado County Clerks Association Executive Director Donetta Davidson. 

The article, by Sentinel veteran reporter Charles Ashby, which is behind a paywall, includes some fascinating detail.  With Gessler's poor spokesman having to hastily erect the latest battlement of bs to thwart the public and its pesky prying of what should be petty, but private, payback:

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Gessler: No Charges, But…

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on the conclusion by a grand jury in Denver that no criminal charges will be filed against Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler over his misuse of office funds to attend Republican political events during the 2012 election season. This comes after Gessler was found by the state's Independent Ethics Commission to have "breached the public trust for private gain."

Evidence in the Grand Jury investigation included thousands of pages of emails, expense reports, financial documents, conference brochures and the Secretary of State handbook.

The jury found the money Gessler used came from a discretionary fund that was traditionally used for a variety of purposes. When Gessler put in requests to be reimbursed, he did so without providing receipts, credit card statements or documentation for two reimbursements — one a little over $117 and the other for $1,400.

“The Grand Jury finds that there was no criminal conduct related to the above noted pay-outs from the Discretionary Fund,” the report said. “However, the Grand Jury herein expresses displeasure with the fact that Secretary of State Gessler did not provide any documentation to account for the lump sum pay out.”

Not exactly an exoneration, as the grand jury continues:

The report concludes that while “the Grand Jury finds that there was no criminal conduct related to the use of Discretionary Funds to attend the RNLA conference, in light of the Secretary of State speaking on a panel, the election law training at the conference and the accreditation…the Grand Jury believe that the Secretary of State’s decision regarding the use of Discretionary Funds in order to attend a partisan and political conference like the RNLA was not prudent, [Pols emphasis] especially when it was followed by a trip to the Republican National Convention.”

The grand jury came to a somewhat different conclusion about attending the Republican National Lawyers Association conference on state money than the Independent Ethics Commission did. The Ethics Commission's ruling and assessed fines against Gessler for that are still binding, of course–and in terms of accountability to plain ethical standards (as opposed to the narrower scope of criminal law), the IEC did its job.

In fact, this outcome–ethics accountability from public officials, including in legal gray areas–is what over 70% of Colorado voters wanted from 2006's Amendment 41, which created the IEC. Republicans will now try to disparage the entire IEC process in Gessler's defense, of course. But given Gessler's now-cemented reputation, we think trying to turn "ethics" into a dirty word on his behalf will be very likely to backfire.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Proof of Citizenship Requirement for Voting

From NBC News:

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down an Arizona law that requires people to submit proof of citizenship when they register to vote.

The vote was 7-2. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that a 1993 federal law known as the Motor Voter Act takes precedence over the Arizona law because of its requirement that states “accept and use” the federal voter registration form…

…Citizenship is a requirement to vote in any federal election, and the federal registration form requires people to state, under penalty of perjury, that they are American citizens. States can use their own forms, but they must be equivalent to the federal form.

The Arizona law, known as Proposition 200 and adopted by Arizona voters in 2004, went further than the federal form by requiring applicants to provide proof of citizenship. Arizona has used the law to reject 30,000 voter applications, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Challengers to the law argued that it put an extra burden on naturalized citizens. Using a naturalization document as proof would require an applicant to register in person, as opposed to through the mail, because federal law prohibits copying the document.

Proving that you are a Colorado resident and proving U.S. citizenship are, obviously, entirely different matters. Secretary of State Scott Gessler will no doubt be on the rampage with this decision as he continues his quest to convince people that illegal immigrants are voting in Colorado (including county clerks, who don't know what Gessler is talking about). Of course, there is no proof that illegal immigrants voting in Colorado is an actual problem, but Gessler and friends have some new complaints to use in touting their manufactured crisis.

We'd say the Supreme Court's decision is a setback for Gessler's cause, but it's not as though this was ever a fact-based campaign to begin with.

Al Sharpton Busts Down Gessler

Back during the legislative session, a mail piece attacking Republican county clerks for their support of House Bill 1303, this year's election modernization bills, drew nationwide condemnation after it photos in the piece were determined to have been altered to remove African-American faces from a line of people waiting to vote. Among those who called out this botched attempt to frighten rural Colorado voters was NBC News' Al Sharpton, who noted the connection between that mailer and the former law firm of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Gessler was the foremost opponent of the bill in question, and the incident helped reinforce his reputation as a shady partisan player–whether or not he personally approved the mailer.

Rev. Sharpton circled back Friday after Gessler was ruled by the state's Independent Ethics Commission as having "breached the public trust for private gain," after using funds from his office's discretionary account to pay for his trip to the Republican National Lawyers Association annual conference last year in Florida, which was scheduled just ahead of the Republican National Convention.

We'd say the "Honey Badger" has met his match…