We received a press release yesterday that seemed innocuous on its face, announcing that El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn will seek re-election to his office in 2014. But we noticed something curious in the form of the release’s sender:
From: Alissa Vander Veen
Date: December 10, 2012 1:57:59 PM MST
Subject: Committee to Elect Darryl Glenn Press and Media Release
The name Alissa Vander Veen seemed familiar to us, so we checked, and sure enough:
The 35-year-old Vander Veen is chief deputy and communications manager for the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, where she’s responsible for disseminating election information to the media.
So, any election results you read or hear about in the news came from Vander Veen. And after the election season cools down, she stays attentive to her other responsibilities in the office, which include motor vehicle administration and serving as clerk to the Board of County Commissioners.
So the person doing communications for a county commissioner’s campaign is also the spokesperson for the El Paso County Clerk–who will count the votes in his election?
That’s right, says the Colorado Springs Independent:
She served as Glenn’s deputy campaign manager [in 2010], and also ran Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams’ campaign. After Williams took office Jan. 1, he hired Vander Veen on Jan. 13 as special projects manager, a $57,500-a-year position he created… [Pols emphasis]
Vander Veen, who has a bachelor’s degree with emphases in fashion marketing and biblical studies, worked in the elections department from 2005 to 2009. She told co-workers in 2009 she was resigning to run Williams’ campaign, say sources wishing to remain anonymous. Williams and Vander Veen deny he promised her a job.
Her résumé is heavy with political activity, from precinct work to assemblies to working on campaigns dating to 2004.
It’s one thing to hire members of your campaign staff to work for you once you win election–that’s quite routine, and officials certainly have the right to hire people they work well with, provided of course the selection is carried out fairly. But this looks more like a revolving door to keep campaign staff employed between campaigns, not to mention a conflict of interest in having your campaign communications staff working for the office that counts the votes. Unless Vander Veen resigns, as she apparently did before she went to work on El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams’ campaign, this seems like a situation ripe for unwelcome scrutiny.
But that’s not what Vander Veen says she’s going to do:
I love my job and the people of Colorado Springs and El Paso County, so I think I will be here for a while…
As you can see, it’s a great deal for her bosses, too.