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.