Gessler Backing Down?

In a Denver newspaper story today by reporter Tim Hoover, embattled Secretary of State Scott Gessler appears to be giving in to the firestorm of criticism that erupted late last week, following his announcement that he intended to continue working part-time at his former law firm.

Gessler’s firm, the Hackstaff Law Group (previously Hackstaff Gessler) has a reputation as one of the most politically connected–and toxic–law firms in the state. While Gessler has asserted that he would not take on cases that pertain to any of the far-reaching responsibilities of the Secretary of State, we have yet to see a qualified observer agree that is practicable, or even verifiable. Moreover, as we discussed yesterday, that pervasive role in Colorado business makes it very difficult to imagine any employment for Secretary Gessler with a company doing business in Colorado where a conflict of interest would not at some point arise.

Well, according to Hoover, Gessler says today he would be willing to make a “full disclosure” of clients he represented on the side–while acknowledging that this may well make him unsuitable for the job from the perspective of those clients. Gessler says flat-out that he “may not be able to do this” now, and says if that’s the choice he’s faced with he’ll choose Secretary of State. It’s quite clear from the read of this article that the criticism of his decision–from partisan, bipartisan, and nonpartisan quarters alike–has tamped down his bravado from the initial coverage.

Which probably has something to do with the growing weight of negative coverage–today’s Denver newspaper has an editorial blasting Gessler, as well as a devastatingly funny column from Mike Littwin. The Grand Junction Sentinel (paywalled) also pans Gessler’s “disturbing” decision.

It’s beginning to look like Gessler will pull back from the brink, before this becomes something even worse than the enormous credibility hit for him it is presently. It’s not the way to introduce yourself ten days after taking office. Before fellow Republicans get too excited about all the wonderful ways Gessler can “help” them Gigi Dennis-style, they might want to consider the possibility that Gessler will bumble the whole thing into a self-inflicted earned media nightmare.

Because this is about as politically clueless as it gets.

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  1. Middle of the Road says:

    Very well written and quite succinct about their reservations over this.

    I’d like to see Gessler choose not to work for his firm at all. If he goes that route, I’ll be thrilled. If he doesn’t, I’ll be worried for the next four years.  

  2. Ralphie says:

    rather, I see him building a case to try and get a favorable ruling from the AG.

  3. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    Now he’s not only clueless, but spineless. A good villain has at least some genuine entertainment value. A bumbling clown who WANTS to be a villain? Yawn.

  4. Dan Willis says:

    but am still disturbed that it took universal condemnation to bring that about.

    I said this election night and I’m saying it again: It’s gonna be a long 4 years!

  5. sandra fish says:

    also has a second gig, consulting for the publicly traded company he lead for up to $150K a year, as i reported at Politics Daily yesterday.

    • droll says:

      his company doesn’t deal in CO.  Gessler’s possible conflict and Stapleton’s aren’t the same.

      • Aristotle says:

        … what is up with people running for full time public jobs, where the salary is well known to be less than what they can make in the private sector, continuing to work in the private sector?

        • droll says:

          Or, in Stapleton’s case, why you’d abandon your company that apparently can’t live without you.  Responsibility and planning the GOP way!

        • redstateblues says:

          reported by Sandra was that Stapleton has the potential to make $150,000 working for his old company in a “consulting” position–chicken scratch compared to the $490,000 he made last year though. But what was interesting was that his father, who will be taking over Stapleton’s duties as CEO, will be making $60,000. That’s less than Stapleton’s salary as State Treasurer.

        • MADCO says:

          Two jobs can be better.

          i have six W2’s from 2010 (and a 1099 or two)   – and I would prefer all were larger, but do not want to give up any of them.

  6. ArapaGOP says:

    If Gessler decides that having his named dragged through the mud by Progress Now and the evil Denvah Post is more costly than finding a nice teaching gig, I respect that.

    But let’s be clear about what this is. It’s a smear campaign based on theories and suppositions. And you’re really just upset that you lost the election.

    • Ralphie says:

      Between you and LB, ProgressNow is the talking point of the day.

      I see the strategy here.  Deflect.  Don’t talk about Gessler’s lack of ethics, kill the messenger instead.

      You think it’s a smear.  Fine.  Defend Gessler.  I dare you.  Just as I dared you in another thread.

      Let’s hear your defense.

    • MADCO says:

      The only issues are whether the “other” job is a) a conflict and 2) becomes the first job and his elected office becomes the “other.”

      He should practice law – just not the kind of law where the SOS would have jurisdiction.

      Can you imagine if Erin Toll had become a real estate broker or a mortgage broker while she was the Director of the Division of real Estate?  Or how about if the Insurance Commissioner started his own insurance provider?

      I know- let’s appoint the SOS to run Pinnacol.

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