Search Results for: gessler

Gessler’s Anti-Mail Ballot Talking Points Grow Awfully Thin

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

Reid Wilson writes at the Washington Post today about the differing experiences of states that have switched to mail ballots. Two states, Washington state and Colorado, both have Republican Secretaries of State. In Washington, Secretary of State Kim Wyman says the switch to mail balloting has been highly successful. After the state allowed mail ballots in the 1990s, it emerged as by far the most popular–and cost effective–option.

But here in Colorado, outgoing Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler is duty bound to disparage mail ballots as he has since the legislation broadening their use passed in 2013–and no positive experience can shake him.

To Gessler, whose state only began conducting elections entirely by mail this year, the system creates the potential for what he calls a “single point of failure” — the U.S. Postal Service.

“The Postal Service is cutting back service for cost-cutting measures,” Gessler said. “You’re seeing some disenfranchisement of voters where the post office is just so slow.”

“I think more people are disenfranchised through all-mail ballots because of the post office than anything else in the country,” he said.

Richard Coolidge, a spokesman for Gessler’s office, said the secretary of state worked overtime to collect mail from the central processing facility in Denver to meet the Election Day deadline. They found 366 ballots that would have otherwise been thrown out for arriving too late.

We have no doubt that some number of voters disregarded the deadline to mail in ballots that was clearly indicated on every ballot as well as other election-related correspondence. Even factoring that inevitable issue, it's just silly to claim that the Postal Service is a "single point of failure" in Colorado elections. For one thing, a large percentage of "mail ballots" aren't mailed back to clerks at all, but dropped off at ballot collection boxes. Counties are apparently not required to track the percentage of ballots returned by postal mail as opposed to being dropped off directly but we've heard in Denver the percentage may be 70% or more deposited in drop boxes. Beyond that, there are other options available, like early voting and vote centers, that make this "single point of failure" business just plain silly.

But the best evidence that Gessler is off base with his ongoing complaints about mail ballots are the results of this year's elections. Neither mail balloting, nor other new election provisions Gessler complains about like same-day voter registration, prevented Republicans from having a pretty good election in Colorado in 2014. There is no evidence that Colorado's updated election laws resulted in anything other than better turnout in a midterm election that nationwide saw the worst turnout since the 1940s. Republicans won the U.S. Senate race, dominated the downticket statewide races except Bob Beauprez's gubernatorial defeat, and made Democrats work for legislative races all over the state. What about this experience speaks badly of Colorado's new election laws, which happen to have been passed by Democrats?

Democrats are bruised from this year's election results, but one thing we can all say for sure today is that Gessler's wild predictions of fraud and chaos as a result of House Bill 13-1303 were totally unfounded. Next year, when new Secretary of State Wayne Williams tries to claim otherwise, hopefully someone reminds him that he won his election in 2014 comfortably too.

Gessler Blames County Clerks for Election Day Problems

Scott Gessler.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler: Blaming everyone else since 2011!

You may recall from Election Day that there were several complaints of problems with the Secretary of State's computer system as county clerks tried to update ballot results. As Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Sentinel reports, Secretary of State Scott Gessler blames the county clerks for problems with his own office:

Colorado’s county clerks and the Colorado Office of Information Technology aren’t agreeing with Secretary of State Scott Gessler about what happened on Election Day.

Gessler told state lawmakers last week that it wasn’t his office’s fault that the county clerks’ offices had problems accessing the Colorado Statewide Registration and Election system.

Instead, the Republican blamed the Office of Information Technology and the clerks’ election workers, saying there was nothing wrong with his system, known as SCORE.

“In anticipation of an afternoon flood (of usage), we brought the system down at 2 o’clock (on Election Day) and brought it up at 2:05 and 30 seconds, so it was down for about five and a half minutes,” Gessler told the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Tuesday. “We thought the system worked very well.”

But the Colorado County Clerks Association and the Office of Information Technology, or OIT, said that’s not entirely what happened.

Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner, who is the 2014 president of the association, said the system went down early in the day Nov. 4 because of an initial problem at OIT, but continued to have problems until the polls closed at 7 p.m.

It's hard to say that this is just a simple "he said/she said" argument. Gessler appears unwilling to acknowledge that the SOS computer system had any problems, instead blaming county clerks for clogging up the system. How dare those county clerks actually try to use election software on Election Day.

Gessler's argument is pretty thin in general; there are numerous accounts of computer problems happening across the state throughout the day. We'd guess the Office of Information Technology knows a little more about this than Gessler himself.

Where’s SoS Gessler when Voter Fraud being committed by James O’Keefe?

Secretary of State Gessler warns us about voter fraud all the time. Now, we know he's most likely in the back pocket of the Koch Brothers and ALEC and fully intends to disenfranchise Democratic voters as his primary goal in this oh-so-noble effort. But, what if we were to give him the benefit of the doubt and presume he would enforce the integrity of our elections even as they are attacked in real time by Fox News provocateur James O'Keefe?

As Mother Jones and Colorado Pols have reported, the convict has been performing his special kind of reporting lately, which has been dutifully reported by Fox News and admirably debunked by our own 9News and others. With these reports it seems quite apparent the James O'Keefe is intent on manipulating Colorado's elections in this critical election year. 

And so, if SoS Scott Gessler doesn't see a problem with these manipulations, maybe we should make sure he knows that we don't appreciate what O'Keefe is doing. And maybe we should contact our Secretary of State now to implore him to stop James O'Keefe and have AG Suthers prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. 

And one must wonder if O'Keefe is violating his parole from that earlier conviction.

SoS contact page here. Other info below:

Elections & Voting

Suite 200
303-894-2200
303-869-4861 (FAX)
elections@sos.state.co.us

Campaign Finance 
303-894-2200 & press 3
cpfhelp@sos.state.co.us

Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
SCORE
Voter information
 

Elections Staff Directory

Gessler, Brauchler, Still Can’t Make Facts Fit Illegal Voter Narrative

Noooooo!!! Oh, nevermind.

Noooooo!!! Oh, nevermind.

As Election Day gets closer and closer, so, too, does the end of Republican Scott Gessler's contentious term as Colorado's Secretary of State. Perhaps one day we will all look back at this period of time and laugh to ourselves in disbelief that Gessler could have actually been in charge of voting in Colorado.

Back when Gessler first took office in January 2011, he told everyone who would listen that Colorado had a massive problem with illegal voters casting illegal ballots. In fact, Gessler testified before Congress that he was aware of at least 16,270 illegal voter registrations in Colorado, including 5,000 who illegally cast a ballot. Those numbers, of course, never held up to even the slightest level of scrutiny. In July 2013, Gessler's office produced a list of 155 people — yes, just 155 — who were suspected of having registered to vote illegally. What happened to the other 16,115 that Gessler boldly proclaimed to Congress as illegal voters? Perhaps someone in the Secretary of State's office just accidentally cut-and-paste the same names 110 times.

Last November, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, a very partisan Republican DA, announced that his office had indicted a grand total of 4 (four) people alleged to have been involved in illegally registering to vote. In June, charges were dropped in one of those cases, and yesterday, a judge tossed charges in a second Brauchler case. From CBS4 Denver:

A judge dismissed an election-fraud charge against an Aurora man on Wednesday after prosecutors said they could not prove he was the one who illegally registered himself to vote.

Tadesse G. Degefa, who is not a U.S. citizen, had been charged with procuring false registration for allegedly signing up to vote in 2012.

District Attorney George Brauchler said the secretary of state’s voter registration website does not have safeguards to prevent someone from illegally registering someone else to vote.

According to CBS 4, charges are still pending against one canvasser and one noncitizen. In other words, out of Gessler's original claim of 16,270 cases of illegal voter registration, we may (and only possibly) end up with just two people who may have not even intentionally been involved with illegally registering a voter. And guess how many people look to have actually voted illegally?

At this point, none. As in, zero.

So, Scott Gessler was pretty close in his estimation of voter fraud — give or take 16,270 people.

What To Make of Gessler Harrassment Allegations?

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

Earlier this week, Westword's Melanie Asmar posted a story about the former chief financial officer in Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office–who claims she was harassed, intimidated, and ultimately demoted after she raised questions about Gessler's use of discretionary account funds. You'll recall that Gessler's use of taxpayer money to attend partisan political events resulted in a ruling from the state's Independent Ethics Commission that he had "breached the public trust for private gain."

As published at Westword Tuesday afternoon:

The former chief financial officer for the Colorado Secretary of State's Office is accusing Secretary Scott Gessler of harassing her, retaliating against her and eventually demoting her after she "began to push back on the financial mismanagement" she reportedly saw in the office. Heather Lizotte took issue with Gessler's use of the office's $5,000 discretionary fund and federal grant funds meant to improve state elections, according to a lengthy claim notice filed with the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

According to the notice, Lizotte began working for the secretary of state's office in 2003 and got excellent performance reviews for many years. The trouble started shortly after Gessler took office in 2010, the notice says. Gessler made headlines for wanting to moonlight at his previous law firm because, he claimed, the secretary of state's salary wasn't enough. Meanwhile, the notice says, Gessler didn't always provide receipts in connection with his use of the office's $5,000 discretionary fund; at the end of fiscal years 2011 and 2012, he also asked Lizotte to give him all of the money left in the fund.

Lizotte told Gessler's staff "that the casual practices being used were not appropriate," the notice says. In a November 2011 e-mail to two staffers, Lizotte wrote that all expenditures from the discretionary fund "should have supporting documentation (for example meal receipts etc.)" and that memos for "blanket expenditures" are not allowed. Lizotte's insistence on the rules, the notice says, caused "ongoing tension" between her and Gessler.

Heather Lizotte testified before the Independent Ethics Commission about the matter of Gessler's discretionary funds account. As Westword reports, Lizotte claims that after her testimony, Gessler and his close staff started shutting her out of meetings. Within a few months, Lizotte was on the wrong side of performance evaluations, and in June she was demoted with loss of pay. While we can't claim to know all of the particulars, there are plenty of circumstances in play here that could add up to plausible claim of retaliation.

Between Tuesday and yesterday afternoon, though, something interesting happened. In a new story, Asmar writes about SoS employees, in interviews "facilitated by Gessler's office," coming out of the woodwork to throw Gessler's former CFO under the bus:

[A] document signed by Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert gives different reasons, including that Lizotte abruptly left the office in December 2013 on sick leave without giving her staff any direction. Lizotte claims that she left because Gessler treated her "so aggressively that she became frightened and seriously ill" and that she did brief her staff on how to handle the meetings scheduled during her absence…

Ryan Moyle, who worked for Lizotte from April 2011 until he left the department in November 2013, says that it seemed to him that Lizotte was in over her head. "In my experience, we were doing a lot of her work," says Moyle, who was a budget analyst.

Moyle says he never saw Gessler mistreat Lizotte; instead, he was "supportive" and "patient" with her. However, Moyle recalls Lizotte saying things that made it clear she didn't see things the same way. "She would always make comments about how it was a boys' club and the men didn't respect her," Moyle says…

Deana Wiedemann, an account tech who worked under Lizotte for eight years, agrees. "It's been a rough road to work with her," Wiedemann says in a conversation facilitated by Gessler's office. "Nothing has been consistent with how she makes decisions."

Bottom line: we don't know Heather Lizotte. We don't know any of the people in the story above who question her performance in these downright ad hominem terms. We do know that Lizotte's employment with the Secretary of State's office predates Gessler's term, meaning she wasn't part of the team that Gessler brought in when he took office. And we know that Gessler was found by the IEC, with their judgment upheld in court, to have improperly spent his office's discretionary funds–which could quite reasonably upset his CFO. The Colorado Civil Rights Division, which is currently investigating, will eventually make a judgment. Until then, yesterday's story ends this way:

Laura Schwartz, one of Lizotte's attorneys, says that Lizotte disagrees with the statements made by the other employees but does not want to comment on them further. Adds Schwartz: "These people who are coming out against Heather are the very people who want to stay in touch with a powerful person. And Gessler is." [Pols emphasis]

Perhaps Gessler will be vindicated. But if he is not vindicated, these subsequent actions, marshaling current and former employees to smear this woman even as the investigation of her claims is underway, could turn out to be one of the very worst of "Honey Badger's" many misdeeds.

Charges Dropped In First of Gessler’s Four Vote Fraud Cases

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

As the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports:

The charge has been dropped in what’s believed to be the first voter fraud case set for trial since Secretary of State Scott Gessler urged district attorneys statewide to prosecute people who purportedly are cheating Colorado’s election system.

Mike Michaelis was scheduled to be tried today for allegedly procuring false information on a voter registration form. Michaelis, 41 and now in construction, registered voters in 2012 on behalf of Work for Progress, a nonprofit that, as its website states, campaigns “for social justice, a fair economy, consumer protection, clean energy, and the environment.”

On a voter registration form submitted to Michaelis by Aurora resident Lydie Kouadio, a box was marked saying she is a U.S. citizen. Gessler’s office determined she isn’t. Her name was among 155 voters the Secretary of State deemed to be suspicious. Last June, Gessler sent prosecutors lists of residents in their districts for possible prosecution…

Winnowing down from Secretary of State Scott Gessler's original breathless claim that "thousands" of noncitizens had voted illegally in Colorado elections, we are finally at the bottom line after countless man-hours spent by his office, county clerks, and local law enforcement in pursuit of this alleged epidemic of vote fraud–four incidents where Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler, far and away the state's most partisan political district attorney, managed to put together enough of a case to file charges.

And now there are three.

Soon after taking office in 2011, Gessler, a longtime Republican election lawyer, claimed there were 16,000 noncitizens registered to vote in Colorado. Soon after, he said he identified 11,805 people as potentially fraudulent voters because they used noncitizen identification for drivers’ licenses with which they registered to vote.

Those figures, he said, backed up his claims that there was a “gaping hole” in the state’s voting system.

But Gessler’s numbers were off — way off – even as he alerted a congressional panel about Colorado’s purported rash of voter fraud.

Far from being a major systemic problem, the "illegal voters" Gessler actually uncovered amount to far less than the number of ballots and voter registrations Gessler's office routinely loses. Gessler's original insistence that many thousands of illegally registered voters were lurking in the rolls has become one of the most thoroughly discredited claims put forward by a Colorado politician in recent years. It's tough to understand why the near-total failure to substantiate a problem Gessler warned about in such certain and ominous terms has not ended his political career.

Perhaps it has, but we can't write that eulogy until after the primary.

Gessler Fights Back, Slams Everybody Else

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

The Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning follows up in the latest issue last week's big story of endorsements rolling in for Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Bob Beauprez. With Beauprez calling in his many chits, Tom Tancredo standing firm on his built-in base of single issue support, and Mike Kopp fading quickly into irrelevance, Secretary of State Scott Gessler is battling to keep this a three-way race:

Calling Beauprez “a good friend of mine,” Gessler noted that he’s worked for Beauprez’ past campaigns in his capacity as an election-law attorney. (Beauprez represented the 7th Congressional District for two terms before giving up his seat in Congress to run for governor in 2006, when he lost to Democrat Bill Ritter by a wide margin.)

“Bob lost his last bid for Governor by 16 points, even though we won other big races that year,” Gessler wrote in his fundraising email. “That means 16 percent of voters deliberately voted against Bob then voted for every other Republican. We can’t risk that happening again, and especially with the Senate seat up for grabs this cycle that’s not a risk we can afford to take.”

…On Thursday, Gessler widened his attack, calling out both Beauprez and Tancredo for losing in the last two gubernatorial elections.

“Should we go with Bob Beauprez — an establishment politician with a track record of losing big races?” Gessler wrote in an email to supporters. “While he was chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, the GOP lost control of the State Senate for the first time in four decades. Then, in 2006, Beauprez lost the governor’s race by nearly 17 points, one of the worse performances by a statewide GOP candidate in the history of the state!”

“That is until 2010…” Gessler continued. “In 2010, Tom Tancredo cost us the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat. He dropped the ‘R’ next to his name and ran as a third party candidate. After he lost, he re-registered as a Republican. How can we trust a guy like that to lead our state, let alone, our party?”

Gessler has his own very serious baggage, of course, from his fruitless years-long quest for "illegal voters" to last year's Independent Ethics Commission finding that Gessler "breached the public trust for private gain" by using taxpayer funds to offset partisan political travel expenses. The ad fodder Gessler has provided his political opponents since election in 2010 has been truly enormous, even career-ending all by itself–but is Gessler correct that Beauprez's and Tancredo's flaws are worse?

After the nonstop roller-coaster of controversy Gessler has put voters through in the last four years, it's tough to imagine him as the most electable of any field of candidates. But maybe it's time we started grading this race on the curve? A poll follows.

(more…)

Brophy Joins Team “Anybody But Gessler”

Greg Brophy.

Greg Brophy.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

State Sen. Greg Brophy, a former gubernatorial hopeful who failed to make the primary ballot at last month’s state GOP assembly, threw his support behind Beauprez during a radio appearance Monday morning.

“I want Republicans to win this November and Bob is the best prepared to win and then govern Colorado back to greatness,” said Brophy, a farmer from Wray who just finished his final legislative session as a state lawmaker.

Brophy is following the lead of Steve House, another former gubernatorial hopeful who is also backing Beauprez.

Beauprez, a former congressman who was the Republican candidate for governor in 2006 when he lost by 17 points to Democrat Bill Ritter, entered this year’s contest at the very last minute in late February, saying that the other gubernatorial candidates weren’t demonstrating enough support to be competitive in the fall.

There seems to be a coordinated push at the moment to coalesce Republicans around failed 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, or failing that, any candidate other than Secretary of State Scott Gessler. At the GOP state assembly last month, it's widely rumored that both Tom Tancredo and Beauprez, both candidates using the alternative petition process to make the ballot, told their supporters in attendance to back former state Sen. Mike Kopp–with the express purpose of denying Gessler an assembly win. Now that Kopp has basically taken himself out of contention with dismal fundraising, the primary is narrowing down to Gessler, Beauprez, and Tancredo. And of those three, Republican insiders are increasingly signaling that only Beauprez has anything close to a shot at winning in the fall.

For reasons we've been documenting ever since Beauprez decided to run for governor again this year, we don't agree–Beauprez is a walking gaffe machine, who stands to do a great deal of harm to Republicans down the ticket this year if nominated. A poll last month from GOP-aligned Magellan Strategies shows Beauprez losing to Democratic incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper by fifteen points. The only way Beauprez might seem more electable than the other two Republican major candidates is when you consider just how unelectable Tancredo and Gessler honestly are–Tancredo as the world famous anti-immigrant lightning rod, and Gessler as the only candidate running for governor with a documented record of "breaching the public trust for private gain."

Even so, it's clear that the Republicans now falling in line behind Beauprez haven't read all the loony-tunes stuff we've been digging up from Beauprez's time between campaigns–claiming that Preisdent Barack Obama is "pushing" America "toward civil war," the "giant hoax" of climate change, how Sharia law is "creeping in" to Colorado, or how the Obama administration has been "infiltrated" by the Muslim Brotherhood. And let's not forget the "birther" thing.

To be honest, if Republicans are determined to ignore Beauprez's record of disqualifying talk-radio wackiness and nominate him anyway, Democrats should strongly consider letting them.

Media omission: Gessler says only he has the “guts” to fight rampant corruption in CO government

(Uh-huh – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

During a radio interview Saturday, Secretary of State Scott Gessler framed his gubernatorial campaign as a battle to save Colorado from the rot of corruption, saying our "state government is corrupt," and he's the only candidate who's had "the guts to stand up and say, 'No more.'"

"I’ve had the guts to stand up and say, 'I’m not going to tolerate this; I’m going to fight back,'" Gessler told KNUS radio-host Jimmy Sengenberger, citing his clashes with Democrats over his budget and ethics issues. "And no one else wants to because they’re afraid. They’re afraid that if a Republican gets criticized they can no longer win elections. And let me ask you, Jimmy, how has that worked out for us over the last ten years?"

"We are a party that needs to be bold," replied Sengenberger, whose show airs Saturdays 5 – 8 p.m. on KNUS. "I agree with you there–"

"I am the only guy who’s being bold on this stuff and what happens?" Gessler continued. "We have these fearful, weak-kneed, timid Republicans who are more interested in scoring political points against me than standing up for principle and saying, 'You know what? We have corruption in this state.'"

"Republicans need to stand up and understand that we have a corrupt state government. They shouldn’t buy into the corruption," he said.

During the interview, Gessler criticized members of the Independent Ethics Commission and called it "corrupt."

In June, the Independent Ethics Commission ruled that Gessler violated the public trust by using public money to attend a Republican political event. On the radio, Gessler was incensed by this decision as well as the Commission's dismissal last month of a complaint against Gov. John Hickenlooper

Gessler said at one point, referring to the Commission, "Let me tell you, Jimmy, this is a corrupt, corrupt government. And I will say ‘corrupt’ again."

Comparing the corruption he says he saw as a young man in Bosnia and Chicago to what he sees in Colorado today, Gessler said, "Where people no longer respect the law, we lose the foundation of our western civilization here. And we’re facing that in Colorado."

(more…)

Colorado Supremes slap down Gessler

Today the Colorado Supreme Court held that Secretary of State Scott Gessler usurped legal authority when he passed an "emergency" rule that purported to allow unelected officials to simply ignore duly cast ballots for a school district director merely because they felt the director was not "qualified for office."

The court quite rightly held that Gessler was usurping the authority of the courts in allowing election officials to make such fundamental decisions.

If the court had ruled the other way, it would be like allowing those 2012 attempts in Arizona and elsewhere by local "birther" election officials to keep Barack Obama off the ballot.

The case is Hanlen v. Gessler, 13 SA 306:

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=9312&courtid=2

 

 

Get Ready For Another Purge Attempt From Gessler’s “Friends”

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

When Glenn Beck's "news" site The Blaze mentions Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the subject of purging voter rolls, our immediate response, for well-established reasons, is caution.

Iowa and Colorado, typically battleground states in presidential and congressional campaigns, each have more registered voters than they have adults over the age of 18 living in the state, according to a conservative watchdog group’s analysis.

The same is true of Washington, D.C., which is set to hold a primary in its mayoral election next week…

In a letter to top election officials, Judicial Watch said it will file lawsuits if Iowa, Colorado and the District do not correction violations of Section 8 of the NVRA within 90 days.

“Specifically, we ask you to: 1) conduct or implement systemic, uniform, nondiscriminatory program to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reason of change in residence,” the letter says, “2) complete this program no less than 90 days prior to the November election; 3) conduct or implement additional routine measures to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reasons of death, change in residence, or a disqualifying criminal conviction, and to remove noncitizens who have registered to vote unlawfully.”

…A spokesman for Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler told TheBlaze the office is “continuing to review the letter.”

“The secretary is committed to accurate voting rolls and continues to ask the legislature for the resources to clean the rolls,” Gessler spokesman spokesman Rich Coolidge told TheBlaze. “Unfortunately, the legislature in Colorado would rather have an honor system for voting than an accurate system.” [Pols emphasis]

We haven't found anything yet in the way of mainstream media coverage of yesterday's "press conference" by the conservative group Judicial Watch alleging irregularities in Colorado's voter rolls, which should tell readers something about the reputation of both this group and the problems they're claiming exist–but this story has spread throughout the conservative media pretty quickly. We haven't seen Judicial Watch's methodology in determining these supposed problems, but the group frequently hosts panels with such personalities as anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who claims that illegal immigrants would swamp our elections as voters to "vote for a more liberal agenda." So we have trouble taking them seriously on their face.

Because Scott Gessler regularly steps into controversy by alleging massive fraud by "thousands" of illegal voters in Colorado elections, a charge which has never been substantiated by subsequent investigation, local press is pretty much inured to this stuff. But it's Rich Coolidge's ridiculous, over-the-top quote that makes us think this whole business is intended for consumption outside the state of Colorado.

That is, unless it's Gessler's new gubernatorial campaign theme? If this story ever makes it out of the realm of the D.C.-based right-wing media funny papers, we promise to revisit it.

A Democrat’s Dream Opponent: Beauprez, Tancredo, or Gessler?

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

Bob Beauprez, Scott Gessler, Tom Tancredo.

At this point in the crowded Republican gubernatorial primary, post-caucus but before the state assembly and June primary election, we're beginning to see trajectories emerge that allow for some predictions as to who–in what has been a gaggle of undistinguished candidates–might emerge as clear frontrunners.

Before the entry of ex-Congressman Bob Beauprez into the gubernatorial race on the day before the caucuses, the race seemed to be settling into a two-man contest between Secretary of State Scott Gessler and firebrand 2010 American Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo. The other candidates in this race, principally state Sen. Greg Brophy and former Sen. Mike Kopp, were already more or less relegated to the second tier–Brophy's good early debate performance being quickly forgotten.

Interrupting the natural propensity for big fields of candidates to winnow down to two, Beauprez undeniably shakes up this race. The biggest reason Beauprez had space to get into the race at all is the persistent unease many institutional Republicans have with Gessler. The court ruling this week upholding the ethics commission's finding that Gessler "breached the public trust for private gain" is a big problem for his campaign, who would really like to consolidate the limited victory he achieved on caucus night in counties that carried out preference polls.

Tancredo has a relatively large base of loyal activists left over from his days as a firebrand anti-immigration activist and presidential candidate, and good name ID, but Republican strategists understand he cannot possibly win a statewide general election. Although Beauprez's real opponent for the nomination is clearly Gessler, Tancredo is the one with the most to lose from Beauprez's entry into the race, and the most quickly.

Which brings us to Beauprez, who is energetically calling in favors from Washington, D.C. friends to generate buzz for his campaign. Beauprez has been described in at least one news report as the "prohibitive favorite" of the Republican Governor's Association (RGA), a reflection of his ability to woo D.C. Republican kingmakers. But Beauprez faces an almost insurmountable obstacle to winning: himself. In barely two weeks, Beauprez has already stuck his foot in his mouth over the "Personhood" abortion ban, re-earning the title "Both Ways Bob" that was used against him so effectively in 2006. He's supplying the same laugh-track material in early interviews that made him the easiest mark most Colorado Democrats can remember–practically the textbook bad candidate to set up and knock down over and over. Whatever Beauprez has done to re-ingratiate himself eight years later in D.C., his 2006 run was a disaster of the kind that probably should end a political career. And he shows every sign that if nominated, he'll bomb in 2014 just as badly.

Bottom line: what we have in the Colorado Republican gubernatorial race today are three potential frontrunners, and to be honest, Democrats should relish the prospect of running against any one of them. For strategic and logistical reasons, Democrats may prefer a candidate unable to self-finance or raise big money so they can truly put Gov. John Hickenlooper's re-election on autopilot. Setting the money aside, we'll turn the question over to our readers: which of these three should Democrats want to run against the most?

BREAKING: IEC Ruling Against Gessler Upheld

THURSDAY UPDATE: AP via 9NEWS:

A Denver judge has rejected Secretary of State Scott Gessler's appeal in an ethics complaint.

Colorado's Independent Ethics Commission admonished Gessler for using state funds for travel to a GOP elections law conference in Florida in 2012. While there, Gessler also attended the GOP national convention, for which he used campaign funds to pay for. Commissioners noted the state money paid for his plane trip to both events and levied a $1,500 fine against him.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert said Gessler probably will appeal. She said her boss was "actually very calm" when he heard the news, but she was fired up. Staiert is a critic of how the five-member commission operates.

"It's absurd. Every official in Colorado is subject to getting snared up in (the commission's) shell game," Staiert said of the ruling…

—–

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

A press release from Colorado Ethics Watch with big news late Wednesday, the Independent Ethics Commission ruling against Secretary of State Scott Gessler over his improper use of state funds for partisan political travel has been upheld in Denver District Court:

Today, Judge Herbert L. Stern, III of the Denver District Court affirmed the decision of the Independent Ethics Commission (“IEC”) that Secretary of State Scott Gessler breached the public trust for private gain by using public money to attend Republican Party events in Florida and to pay himself funds left over in the department’s discretionary account at the end of Fiscal Year 2012. Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the IEC about Gessler's spending in October 2012. The IEC ruled against Gessler after an eleven-hour hearing in June 2013. Gessler sought review of the decision in Denver District Court.

Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro issued the following statement: "Judge Stern's ruling should surprise no one. Public funds are not to be used to pay for plane tickets and hotel rooms at partisan political events. Nor can officeholders whose salaries are set by statute use discretionary funds to pay themselves a year-end bonus. It is time for Scott Gessler to stop spending the people's money defending the indefensible. He should pay the fine and move on."

Here's the complete ruling handed down today. From the initial read of it, this was not a close decision for Judge Herbert L. Stern. In addition to a major validator for the much-maligned Independent Ethics Commission, created by 2006's Amendment 41, this ruling is a major blow to Gessler's gubernatorial hopes–if not in the GOP primary than in the general election. Gessler is counting on overturning the IEC's ruling to forestall otherwise devastating attack ads about his having "breached the public trust for private gain." Without a powerful rebuttal to that charge–something that would get ads taken off the air–the paid media case that can be made against Gessler, with this ruling as the centerpiece, leaves the man pretty much unelectable.

We'll update with coverage of today's ruling once available.

Gessler “pretty confident” Beauprez will enter gov race

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Both Ways Bob Beauprez

Both Ways Bob Beauprez (right).

Radio host Jimmy Sengenberger broke news on his Velocity Radio show yesterday, when his guest Scott Gessler said he's "pretty confident" Bob Beauprez will enter the gubernatorial race, and Gessler pointed out that Beauprez ran a "pretty disastrous" campaign in 2006.

Gessler (@1 hour 21 min): “I’ve heard the same thing. I’m actually pretty confident Bob Beauprez is goig to be getting into the race. Probably next week is what I’ve heard.”

Just prior to talking with Gessler, Sengenberger, whose internet show airs weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., conversed with Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels about the possibility of Bob Beauprez entering the gubernatorial race.

Sengenberger: Will that change the race in your mind from a two-man race to possibly a three-man race?

Gessler: Maybe. We’ll see how much traction he gets. You know, Bob is well-known. He’s well respected. On the other hand, he ran a pretty disastrous campaign back in 2006, where he lost by about 17 points.

Sengenberger: …It was a tough year for Republicans.

Gessler: Well, yes and no. John Suthers won his state-wide race. Mike Coffman won his state-wide race. Mark Hillman lost his state-wide race, but just by a little. And Bob lost by 17 points.

Gazette states that its anonymous Gessler critics don’t back Gessler opponents

(The knives come out for the "Honey Badger" – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a surprisingly sharp editorial yesterday arguing that Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler will be "crucified in the general election" if Republicans choose him to take on Hickenlooper, The Colorado Springs Gazette cited two anonymous sources:

"Democrats will have a field day with Gessler," said a ranking Colorado Republican insider who spoke to The Gazette on background. "I don't think he's electable."

Another ranking Republican, asked about Gessler as nominee, said only this: "train wreck."

How can the Gazette offer up these anonymous sources without at least telling us that the people quoted don't back State Sen. Greg Brophy or any of Geessler's opponents?

So I asked Gazette Editorial Page Editor Wayne Laugesen if he'd tell me whether these sources are supporting one of the other GOP gubernatorial candidates. Or if they're on the payroll of another candidate?

Laugesen: "Members of The Gazette's editorial board know who the two sources are. Among those board members is my immediate supervisor, the publisher of The Gazette. Neither source has decided on a candidate (or so we are told). Each has employment that would forbid obtaining compensation from a candidate."

Laugesen might consider tossing his clarifying statement onto his editorial page, in the unlikely event that any of his readers miss this blog post. So now it's up to readers to decide if they trust the Gazette on this. I do.