Troubling evidence surfaced today in the on-going scandal of alleged political activities and moonlighting in the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.
Secretary Mike Coffman’s repeated denials of prior knowledge that technology manager Dan Kopelman was engaged in partisan activities are quickly being shredded by documents released today by Colorado Citzens for Ethics in Government.Kopelman, a long political ally of Coffman’s, was discovered selling targeted Colorado voter data to Republican campaigns through Political Live Wires.com, a privately-owned web site in apparent violation of state personnel rules. The same web site also maintained a Republican Party calendar of events and promoted partisan activities.
In a set of emails obtained by the ethics watchdog group through an open records request, Colorado Republican Hispanic Assembly chairman Gil Cisneros sent an email to Coffman’s personal email address requesting a subscription to the Political Live Wires e-newsletter operated by Kopelman.
An exchange of emails was set in motion by Coffman forwarding the request to his executive assistant Abby Thomas, on her state government email account, who then forwards it to Dan Kopelman’s Political Live Wires email address. He replies back to Thomas, again on her state account, that Cisneros’ request was completed.
Reached by phone Chantell Taylor of Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government raised more concerns about the activities of Kopelman and Coffman’s apparent knowledge of them.
The group’s Colorado Open Records Act request for correspondence between deputy secretary of state Bill Hobbs and the Colorado Attorney General’s office was denied by the Secretary of State asserting attorney-client privilege. Taylor contends that if those documents were shared with the state auditor’s office, which is currently conducting an investigation of Kopelman’s activities, that would nullify the privilege. If the records were not shared with the investigators, that begs a whole new set of questions about why the secretary of state is not fully cooperating with the auditor.
In another set of emails obtained by the group and posted on their web site, as Exhibit M, Kopelman sends an email from his personal account to Coffman’s official state email account about upcoming GOP events.
“Dan Kopelman never takes off his campaign hat,” said Taylor in describing the content of the emails obtained by her organization. ‘Why is Kopelman telling Coffman about GOP political events and encouraging him to attend them? Is Kopelman the techonology manager or his political scheduler?”
Following the initial revelations of Kopelman’s activities in May, Coffman demoted and re-assigned his tech manager to another division with the secretary of state’s office. Shortly, thereafter the state auditor began an investigation into allegations that Kopelman misused state resources. Two weeks later, Coffman released new rules prohibiting partisan activities by office personnel.
“Misconduct through partisan activity on state time is incompatible with Kopelman’s role as a state employee, said Taylor. “Coffman is accountable for violations of staff rules. It’s very disingenuous and misleading of him to deny knowledge of these activities when he was clearly involved in them as the emails detail.”
A call to Jonathan Tee, spokesman for the Secretary of State, was not returned.
UPDATE 6/15/07 4:50 p.m.: Colorado Confidential’s Kerri Rebresh contacted the Denver District Attorney’s office regarding the new information. Chief deputy DA Joe Morales said he will “review the material” submitted on Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government but won’t take any action until the state auditor’s investigation of Kopelman is complete.