It is rare that a Colorado Secretary of State makes the news. Correction: It used to be rare. Scott Gessler has a gift for drawing attention to himself and his office. This week, he’s been featured on Rachel Maddow’s national television show, written about in The Wall Street Journal and editorialized against in The Boulder Daily Camera.
No word yet on whether he’s seeking higher office but there are certainly Republican candidates for president getting less press than Gessler.
From The Boulder Daily Camera:
When Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler was running for office, he emphasized his deep commitment to voting access, especially for Colorado members of the military who would vote from afar.
But according to the Pueblo clerk, many of Colorado’s military members are among those swept up in the battle between the Denver clerk and Gessler. If those troops didn’t return their ballots in the last general election they, and tens of thousands of registered Colorado voters who didn’t vote one time, they are considered inactive and will not get ballots to vote in a mail-only election.
The showdown between the Denver clerk, intent on sending out ballots, and Gessler heads to court Friday. The Denver clerk’s office said data shows people of color, Democrats and unaffiliated voters will be the voters most impacted by Gessler’s interpretation of the law.
Gessler has been an extremely partisan secretary. Right out of the gate, he said he wanted to work a second job, moonlighting for a law firm that is very active representing conservative candidates and political interest groups. Months later, after his office levied a fine to the Larimer Republicans for campaign violations, he reduced that $48,700 original fine to $15,708. He then became the guest star of their own fundraiser to pay off the fine.
When asked about the propriety of that — would he attend a similar fundraiser by a county’s Democratic party — he replied to a Denver Post reporter: “It would have to be an organization I’m philosophically aligned with.”
Well nifty. We have a man driven by his political alignment to ethically questionable lengths in charge of all of Colorado’s voters. Boulder County’s Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall chose not to fight alongside Denver. There are about 24,600 registered voters in the inactive/failed to vote category in Boulder County. Only about 1,000 of those appeared to have moved away, according to her office’s postal records research.
Even the Wall Street Journal is in on the act.
The battle is over what to do with 55,000 registered voters—nearly 20% of the electorate in Denver—who failed to cast ballots in the 2010 general election, skipped two municipal elections earlier this year and then ignored several letters from the city clerk asking them to call, email or go online to update their registration. Under state law, these people are classified as “inactive” voters
Litigation between Gessler and inactive voters, represented by the Denver and Pueblo county clerks, could be decided next week.
“Denver is doing the right thing and Scott Gessler should not be able to stop Clerk Debra Johnson from sending ballots to legally registered voters,” said Jenny Flanagan, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, which Wednesday joined the suit on the side of defendant Denver County Clerk. Pueblo County also joined the suit on Denver’s behalf Wednesday.
“The right to vote is a fundamental right of every citizen.” said Flanagan.