Scott Gessler Cashing In Yuge On Westminster Recall

Scott Gessler.

For those unacquainted with the municipal politics of Denver’s northwestern suburb of Westminster, the Westminster City Council is both a notable incubator of Colorado Democratic leadership like Sen. Faith Winter, Rep. Shannon Bird, and Adams County Commissioner Emma Pinter–as well as the stomping grounds of some of the wackier minor Colorado Republican political wannabes like Bruce Baker and Michael “Sustainability Scares Me” Melvin.

Last fall, Republicans led by Baker, who is running for another term on the city council after being bounced off back in 2017, launched a recall campaign targeting the present and former Mayor and two other city council members. The pretext was an increase in water rates, but the recall campaign is widely understood to be a partisan political fight with the goal of flipping the nominally nonpartisan city government to de facto Republican control. Only two petition drives were successful, setting up recall questions against City Councilor Jon Voelz and former Mayor Herb Atchison. Atchison resigned from office soon afterward due to an unrelated health issue, leaving Voelz as the sole recall target in the rapidly-approaching July 20 special election.

If you haven’t heard much about this partisan political proxy battle shaping up in one of Denver’s biggest and fastest-growing suburbs, there’s a reason for that. As the Colorado Community Newspaper affiliate Westminster Window’s Liam Adams picks up the story:

In less than two weeks, on July 20, Westminster voters will decide whether to recall City Councilor Jon Voelz and if so, to elect candidate Kathleen Dodaro to take his place. For months now, Defend Westminster has raised money and campaigned for Voelz to retain his seat. The Westminster Water Warriors — who originally sought to recall four members of Westminster City Council — would see a successful recall of Voelz as evidence that their messaging about Voelz’s stance on water rates was compelling for citizens…

The city will pay Community Resource Services of Colorado up to $250,000 to run the special election because it is not part of a coordinated county election. Voelz’s council seat is up for election again in November.

This is critical to understand: the cost of this recall election is being borne by taxpayers, for a special election to decide whether Jon Voelz will serve in office until the regular election just a few months later in November. It’s an indefensibly pointless waste of taxpayer money, and Voelz’s allies are hoping a resounding defeat signals voter displeasure with their time and money being so egregiously wasted.

But depending on your point of view, that might not even be the worst part of what’s happening:

The Colorado Democratic Party and Democratic leaders in the region have come to the aid of the anti-recall group. Meanwhile the pro-recall group has spent a total of $18,156 on its attorney, Scott Gessler, former Colorado secretary of state and candidate for Colorado GOP chairman, according to an analysis of campaign finance reports filed by both groups between September and June. Virtually all the Water Warriors’ expenses, some of which are still owed, went to attorneys fees… [Pols emphasis]

Let that sink in for a moment. Almost the entirety of the expenses paid by the pro-recall campaign are attorneys fees to Scott Gessler, the state’s most infamous Republican recall lawyer, thoroughly discredited election conspiracy theorist, failed candidate for Colorado GOP chairman, and Trump would-be coup d’etat “expert witness.” Now, we understand there was some litigation in the process, but the idea that Gessler’s law firm has received almost all the money raised for this recall campaign is astounding:

Expenditures stand out the most in the Water Warriors’ financial reports. The group has spent $19,156 in legal fees, almost all of which went to Gessler. Gessler has told the Window that even though he’s well-known in Republican circles throughout Colorado, his work for the Water Warriors has only been in a legal capacity, not a political one.

Currently, the total amount of legal fees the Water Warriors owe Gessler is about $40,000, but invoices are still coming in, said Debbie Teter, an organizer with the Water Warriors.

Additionally, the Water Warriors have spent $860 on Facebook ads…

In short, whatever argument it may have been that persuaded you to donate to the Westminster recall campaign, be it pique about your water bill or knowing full well it’s a partisan political power play, doesn’t matter! Because all your money, and we mean that so close to literally it’s jaw-dropping, went directly into Scott Gessler’s pocket. The $860 they committee has apparently spent advertising their efforts on Facebook is practically insulting to the campaign’s donors.

You’re damn right Scott Gessler’s not acting in his “legal capacity” or his “political capacity.”

This recall appears to be about one thing and one thing only: “Honey Badger” getting paid.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. kwtree says:

    Scott Gessler was also briefly a consulting attorney for the Green Mountain Water District  (GMWD).
    Three of the District’s five board members are slated for a recall election in August, stemming from a failed lawsuit by developers who did not get a rather sweet deal from GMWD. 

    Gessler was brought on to assist the District’s attorney, Jo Timmons, in defending GMWD against a lawsuit filed by a consortium of developers. Timmons decided she’d rather not have Gessler’s services.

    The basic issue was that the developers got a sweet deal on sewer services, an Intergovernmental Agreement signed by the outgoing Board, and reneged on by the incoming Board, all on May 18, 2018. A court later dismissed the claims by the developers, ruling in favor of GMWD.

    Irate residents, some of them my friends, put a recall election in motion to recall the three new board members, on the grounds that they demonstrated poor governance and overstepped their authority, exposing GMWD to the potentially ruinous lawsuit.
    The recallers obtained enough signatures, and the recall election is on, although no successor candidates have yet stepped up. As in the Westminster Recall, Community Resource Services will run the recall election, at a cost at least $40,000.

    The developers (Big Sky, Three Dinos, Cardel Homes, others) may sue again, after the recall election, to try to resume the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) sewer deal. It is rumored that Gessler may weigh in again, this time on the side of the developers who want their shit piped to Denver on the GMWD ratepayer’s dime.

    I started a diary on all this, but decided that it was too much of a confusing clusterf*ck, and my sympathies were more with the Board members who rejected the developer’s deal. One of the developers, of the Three Dinos, tried to get a used car lot right by Dinosaur Ridge by Morrison. Jeffco denied that particular use, but 3Dinos is going for other developments in the Rooney Valley area.
    Anyway, Gessler got paid from that shindig, too, until he got fired by his co-counsel. Possibly because he was too expensive.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Small point, . . .

      . . . commonly referred to as “Dinosaur Ridge,” the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark is not “Dinosaur National Monument,”which is located in northwestern Colorado almost to the Utah border.

      (. . . keeping Colorado’s valued western slope and our polsters in that wonderfully unique locale properly credited and acknowledged.)

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      You and I will agree on this. I don't want my GMWD rates going up to subsidize fat cat developers and their special districts. 

      Keep posting if you hear more. The Lakewood Sentinel hasn't been delivered on my G.M. cul-de-sac for a couple of years. I will check that out in next couple days, but , otherwise, there is no regular local news being distributed around here. 

      • kwtree says:

        There is some batshit reporting coming out of the Lakewood Watchdog and the Rooney Valley News – I wouldn’t rely on their characterizations of the recallers, but they do represent the conservative (in the traditional sense) point of view of Rooney Valley water consumers.

        For factual legal reporting, the GMWD website is probably your best resource. They are hiring Community Resource Service to run the actual recall election. As a GMWD customer, you should get a ballot for the recall in August.

        I will update as I hear stuff. If I wrote a diary, it would reflect that I don’t see any actual heroes or villains in the story, just a general clusterf*ck and people communicating badly.

    • Old Time Dem says:

      Scott Gessler was also briefly a consulting attorney for the Green Mountain Water District  (GMWD).

      It is rumored that Gessler may weigh in again, this time on the side of the developers who want their shit piped to Denver on the GMWD ratepayer’s dime.

      If Gessler previously represented GMWD, it would likely be a conflict for him to represent the developers in a matter in which GMWD was on the other side.

      • kwtree says:

        This is true. I speculate that Gessler had a “conservative” interest in the case, because the TABOR law ultimately grounded the court’s decision against the developers and for GMWD.

        GMWD failed to appropriate funds (by getting ratepayer consent) for the extra infrastructure that would have been needed to connect the sewer lines to the proposed developments. The whole question of how the extra equipment would be paid for was left kind of undefined in the IGA, which left GMWD holding the bag. Its consumers would eventually have had to bear the costs, without voting yes or no on the deal. So it was a TABOR issue that Gessler would have had an interest in.

        If the present board is recalled in August and the developers get another go at the IGA, TABOR will again come into play as the GMWD customers will have to vote on whether they want the deal and how to pay for it. Hence, Gessler again, defending Colorado’s screwed-up budget law.

        You’d probably understand the legal language of the court’s decision better than I do.


  2. 2Jung2Die says:

    Probably time to change to Money Badger!

  3. spaceman2021 says:

    Scott has gone off the deep end full tilt.  

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