(Did we predict Gessler would be a four-year field day for Democrats? Three years, eleven months, and one week to go! – promoted by Colorado Pols)
POLS UPDATE #2: From the Colorado Independent:
Making sure that any work [Gessler] does for Hackstaff doesn’t conflict with the work he has sworn to do for the people of Colorado, however, may amount to another full-time job.
The secretary of state oversees and administers laws, codes, regulations that cover a vast array of vital and contested areas of activity, including lobbying, elections, campaign finance, voter registration, ballot initiative title setting and petition verification, some gambling as well as business, nonprofit and charitable practice and licensing. The list is long…
Attorney General John Suthers, who is tasked to work with Gessler to help him avoid Hackstaff-related conflicts of interest, said attorney-client privileges prevent him from speaking on the topic.
This legally proscribed silence is a big problem and points to the bigger problem going forward, according to Luis Toro, director of government watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch and a man who has argued cases against Gessler in the past. The public is being forced to simply accept that the secretary of state will be acting in good faith without any way to really ask questions or get answers to confirm that’s the case, he said. [Pols emphasis]
POLS UPDATE: In a press release from Strong Colorado (after the jump), basically every liberal group in the state takes a swing at Scott Gessler’s decision to moonlight at his old law firm while serving as Secretary of State. Says Steve Fenberg of New Era Colorado, “As a public servant, Gessler has to have the public trust. And he’s telling us – ‘trust me, but I can’t tell you what I’m doing.’ Given his background in partisan politics that’s a difficult thing to ask.”
That’s the nice way to say it–original post follows.
Scott Gessler, our brand-spanking new Secretary of State, now charged with overseeing elections and campaigns, plans to continue working as an attorney for Hackstaff Law Group, which represents clients needing help with election and campaigns.
Perhaps it would have been nice to tell his employers – the voters – before they hired him that this was his plan. He could have told them that $68,500 wasn’t enough. He could have said that he didn’t believe being the Secretary of State would consume all of his time and energy. He even could have told us, voters of Colorado, that the apparent huge conflict of interest was actually no problem at all.
Whatever the case, it is truly mindboggling how audacious he is to think that this won’t be a problem, in both perception and reality.
Maybe he just didn’t know how much the position paid before he applied for it.
DBJ broke first, but here is the report from HuffingtonPost Denver
Gessler told the Business Journal that he needs extra money to supplement the $68,500 he will make annually as Secretary of State. A former partner with Hackstaff and Gessler LLC, now the Hackstaff Law Group, Gessler said he’s taking more than a 50% pay cut in his new job.
January 21, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ellen Dumm, 303 810-4370, [email protected]
Gessler “Moonlighting” Raises Trust Issues with Public
Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s announcement that he will keep a part-time private attorney job to supplement his state salary raises some red flags because he cannot reveal much of the information about his private job.
Gessler, who represented independent, political attack groups as a private attorney, says he will work 20 hours a month with his former law firm, Hackstaff Law Group. Hackstaff continues to represent numerous political organizations that do business with the Secretary of State’s office. The law firm will not disclose Gessler’s part-time salary and cannot reveal the legal clients.
During last year’s campaign, the Colorado Statesman noted that Gessler’s name was attached to “virtually every third-party right-wing attack group.”
“The Secretary of State’s office oversees campaign finance, elections, voters’ rights and some business and nonprofit activity. As a public servant, Gessler has to have the public trust. And he’s telling us – ‘trust me, but I can’t tell you what I’m doing.’ Given his background in partisan politics that’s a difficult thing to ask,” said Steve Fenberg of New Era Colorado, a civic engagement group for young voters.
“He’s running Colorado’s elections and has to be above reproach. Trust is a big piece of his relationship with the public. This is not a good start for him,” said Ben Hanna of the Colorado Progressive Coalition.
Gessler says he is taking a pay cut of more than 50% to take the Secretary of State’s job, although he was aware of the salary when he ran for the office.
“There are a lot of people who are struggling right now who would love to have a $68,500 salary. That may not seem like much to Mr. Gessler, but that tells me he doesn’t have a good sense of what the world is like for a lot of people. I’d love to have one job right now, much less two,” said Diane Stallard, an unemployed human resources professional who has been looking for a job for two years.