Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been under fire for the last few days for complaining that his $68,500 annual salary (which pays about 33% more than the average $46,000 salary in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Labor) just isn’t enough and that he needs to work a second job with his old law firm — conflict of interest be damned!
Gessler has no doubt asked Republican Attorney General John Suthers for a private opinion on the matter (he can cite attorney-client privilege here, because the AG is technically Gessler’s “attorney”), but the public should know what question(s) have been asked. Gessler is essentially asking Suthers for a ruling that will affect his work schedule as a full-time elected official in Colorado, so the public absolutely has a right to know what is being discussed.
We don’t see how Suthers could possibly approve a plan that lets Gessler work for his former law firm, which deals primarily in election law. Gessler may say that he could be excused from any potentially conflicting cases, but that misses the bigger point about the Secretary of State’s office: The elected SOS should not have a second job with any employer who does business in Colorado.
Remember, the SOS’ job isn’t just dealing with elections — the SOS handles all manner of business regulations and registrations for companies of all different sizes in Colorado. With that in mind, we don’t see how Gessler, or any person serving as the Secretary of State, could ever be permitted to work for another company that does business in Colorado. The SOS has a direct conflict of interest with all of them.
So, what has Gessler asked Suthers? And how could Suthers ever, in any permutation of the ask, agree to allow Gessler to moonlight somewhere else?