UPDATED: Ken Gordon, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, has asserted that conducting fair elections is the most important responsibility of the SOS office. He has stressed that it is imperative the office of the Secretary of State be above partisan politics, especially in an election year. Last year, in fact, the state senator introduced two bills to protect the sanctity of the SOS office. One piece of legislation ensured that there would be a paper trail from electronic voting machines. The second one prevented any Secretary of State from chairing a state or national campaign. Gordon sites Kathryn Harris, former Florida Secretary of State and George Bush’s Florida campaign manager, as the inspiration for this legislation. Both bills passed.
Recently, Gordon was questioned about his silence on controversial rulings by the current Secretary of State, GiGi Dennis. He responded that he had given her the benefit of the doubt until he learned later she was following requests from the Beauprez campaign.
On Tuesday, there was no doubt that Gordon had been pushed “over the edge” by the revelation that Dennis, about 40 days before Election Day, apparently has her name as chairman of the big Bush bash for Beauprez on the invitations. “I believe that it is totally unethical for Dennis to be hosting this fundraiser,” Gordon contends.
(New) Here are Gordon’s comments this Wednesday morning:
President Bush is coming to Colorado this week to do a fundraiser for Bob Beauprez. It is expected to raise a fortune for Beauprez’s floundering campaign. Chairs of the event include Secretary of State (SOS) Dennis. This is wrong.
As Chief Election Officer of the state, the SOS is supposed to be a neutral referee of election disputes. Katherine Harris, the SOS in Florida in 2000, was also a Chair of the Bush campaign. Because of this example of conflict of interest, I successfully carried legislation in 2005 that made it illegal for our SOS to be the chair in any partisan race. Ms. Dennis is probably not in violation of the letter of the law. She is certainly in violation of the spirit of the law.
If there are disputes relating to the Beauprez-Ritter contest, she is supposed to resolve them. By helping Beauprez raise money, she is foregoing any pretense of neutrality.
Asking the SOS to be fair is not some silly, idealistic pipedream. Elected officials are examples and role models….
I spoke to Donetta Davidson, Dennis’ predecessor in the SOS office, when I was thinking about running for Secretary of State. She said that she didn’t take a position in any race when she was SOS. She said if I were successful, I should not get involved in races either, and I agree with her. I won’t. Donetta would not have been a chair of the Beauprez fundraiser.
The more that elected officials act dishonestly or selfishly, the more it becomes accepted. People become more cynical. Fewer people vote. Wealthy special interests obtain more power. Our laws begin to benefit only campaign contributors. Government becomes dysfunctional. Energy companies have private meetings with the Vice President to write energy policy. Insurance companies write laws that help them deny health coverage to people. Pharmaceutical companies are able to prevent states from taking action to reduce health care costs.
Under Tom Delay, the former House Majority Leader, laws were for sale for campaign contributions.
People have a choice. They can become cynical or outraged. Since habituation to corruption happens gradually, some people act like the frog that doesn’t jump out of the slowly boiled water.
Don’t become cynical. Become outraged. Don’t rely on someone else to fix it. If you don’t fix it yourself, it isn’t going to be fixed. There are no other adults making sure that everything is going to turn out all right.
Cynicism is the ally of greedy special interests. It disables people from acting to take back their power.
There hasn’t been a Democrat as SOS in Colorado for 40 years. There are 180,000 more registered Republicans in this state than Dems. I don’t think any other major party candidate is running without taking special interest PAC money. Let’s make history. This is the year we can do it…
Sincerely, Ken Gordon
Sounds like the SOS race may soon become interesting.