Before his election last November as Secretary of State, Scott Gessler was a partner in one of Colorado’s most politically connected law firms. He represented some of the state’s most controversial right wing political groups and candidates. Some of Gessler’s clients have been disgraced by campaign finance disclosure complaints, allegations of unlawful false statements against their opponents, and other alleged election law violations.
Despite Gessler’s record, he promised on the campaign trail last year that he would set aside his past associations, and serve the state of Colorado without the conflicts of interest that would seem obvious given his history. But today, The Denver Post reports that Gessler wants to remain employed part time by his old law firm while he serves as Secretary of State.
Colorado’s Secretary of State, the state’s chief elections official, moonlighting at a law firm that specializes in elections? This is completely unacceptable. Sign our petition now, demanding that Gessler immediately abandon this absurd plan. And if he can’t, Gessler should immediately resign his position as Secretary of State.
Gessler is telling reporters he won’t take on cases that pertain to elections, business registration, gaming, charities, or any of the long list of issues the Secretary of State’s office oversees. But according to Colorado Ethics Watch, the state’s leading government ethics watchdog group, attorney-client confidentiality prevents the public from even asking questions about Gessler’s moonlighting–let alone getting real answers! (Colorado Independent, 1/21/2011)
This is not a case of a public servant who simply needs a better income. For one thing, Gessler knew perfectly well when campaigning for this job what it paid–just under $70,000 per year. And this is no ordinary “second income,” this is a situation which opens the door to the kind of backroom dealing and favoritism of his old political pals that Gessler’s opponents always feared. What’s more, the state Attorney General’s office is now tasked with “working with Gessler” to prevent conflicts of interest. How much staff time and expense will that take up?
Tell Gessler right now: this is not acceptable. Sign our petition demanding that Gessler give up his plan to moonlight for his old law firm; and if he can’t do that, to immediately resign from his office. We’ll deliver your names and comments to Gessler’s office, other officials, and the media at the end of next week.
Colorado needs a full-time Secretary of State–but above all, Colorado needs a Secretary of State we can trust, and Scott Gessler is failing that test.