Want to see what happens when the state’s chief of election shenanigans runs for the post of chief elections enforcement officer? We didn’t want this weekend report from the Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland to escape mention. Excerpts, make sure you read it all:
A complaint filed against Secretary of State Bernie Buescher by a supporter of his Republican opponent was dismissed Tuesday by an administrative law judge. And Republican candidate Scott Gessler admitted Tuesday he “may have” had input into that complaint and another allegation made against Buescher regarding his calendar.
The campaign finance complaint alleged a member of Buescher’s staff maintained his schedule for official business and also maintained his campaign calendar, without reimbursement to the state from the Buescher campaign for her paid state time.
The complaint was filed by attorney Robert McGuire on behalf of Nickelette Bigham-Gullette, an Adams County GOP activist who ran for Adams County Clerk in 2006. Tuesday, McGuire asked an administrative law judge to dismiss the complaint based on concerns that they “will not prevail” should the matter end up in court…
Gessler told The Colorado Statesman Tuesday he “may have” had input into the campaign finance complaint filed by McGuire. He said McGuire is a friend and that he was aware that McGuire had contributed to his campaign…
“What’s frustrating to me,” Buescher told The Statesman on Wednesday, is that “Scott views this as a game, and it’s not.” He cited as an example the problems of the Independent Auto Dealers Association, which has racked up more than $500,000 in fines for failing to file campaign finance reports for more than two years. Gessler was its registered agent and responsible for those reports. The association filed papers on Sept. 20 to replace him, and all of the missing reports were filed on Sept. 30. In addition, Buescher said Gessler has wasted taxpayer dollars on “trivial things” and complaints that can’t be substantiated. “This isn’t the way public policy can be made,” Buescher said.
Scott Gessler has built his career as an elections attorney on thin defenses of legally questionable activities by Republican-leaning groups. Gessler racked up more fines for disclosure violations with committees for which he is–or was until it became a scandal–the registered agent than…well, if not a record in absolute terms (which it might well be), certainly the most fines ever accumulated by a candidate for Secretary of State. Gessler’s experience is in the clever flouting, undermining, and evasion of election law–not its enforcement. The analogy made about his candidacy, “Fox for Henhouse Secretary,” seems more appropriate with each new story that hits the wires.
We’re pretty much convinced that Gessler would never even try to run for Secretary of State in anything but the strongest of GOP “wave years,” because there is no way his record would survive the kind of scrutiny that normally applies. This year? Like we say on the Big Line, Gessler is basically hoping to sneak in under cover of higher-profile races. It’s the best shot he’ll ever have.
Bottom line: This isn’t about Gessler’s “qualifications,” because nobody doubts he understands Colorado election law as well as anybody. By the same token, Al Capone knew the law very well, too. And although it would have made Chicagoland gangsters very happy, no one would have considered electing Al Capone chief of police a good idea.