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February 18, 2012 10:48 PM UTC

How Much Do You Trust Scott Gessler?

  • 25 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

Last year at this time, Colorado’s then-newly elected Secretary of State Scott Gessler was just beginning to recover from a major scandal that hobbled his first weeks in office. Gessler had announced in mid-January of 2011 his intention to continue working for his old elections-specialty law firm, the Hackstaff Law Group (formerly Hackstaff Gessler).

After a massive outcry from Democrats and editorial boards around the state over the conflict of interest potential this represented, and an opinion from Attorney General John Suthers that hasn’t been disclosed, Gessler publicly backed off–and announced that he would teach college classes on the side to supplement his income instead. Since then, Gessler has certainly not been a stranger to controversy, but we hadn’t heard anything more about Gessler continuing a relationship with his old law firm while serving as Secretary of State. Which is a relief, as Hackstaff is one of the most politically connected law firms in the state, and it’s very difficult to see how he could have any ongoing relationship there without inviting scandal.

But once Gessler called it off, there was nothing to talk about either way. Until we saw this:

The excerpt above is from Gessler’s 2011 personal financial disclosure statement. The top-listed item under Gessler’s list of external personal income is money paid to him, an unknown amount and for an unknown purpose but sometime within the 2011 calendar year, by the very same Hackstaff Law Group he was going to moonlight for! After the ruckus caused by Gessler’s attempt do do side work for his old firm, it should be clear why this annual disclosure is mandatory from incumbent officeholders: so the public can see if there is a problem.

And it would be a problem if Gessler was still working for Hackstaff, especially after swearing the idea off last January–you know, if it was determined that Gessler wasn’t being truthful when he announced that he was calling off the “moonlighting.” Wouldn’t that be a bit of a problem?

We’re told that there have been some inquiries about this disclosure report with Gessler already. His office replies that the undisclosed amount of money paid to Gessler from Hackstaff Law Group in 2011 was a “buyout” of his interest in the law firm, but Gessler has reportedly turned down requests for additional documentation which would substantiate that claim. Under current law, Gessler is only required to disclose what you see above–no description, not even a total amount paid. Until we see the report in January of 2013 showing what Gessler earned this year, we’ll have no way of knowing if the claim of a “one-time” buyout payment is true.

And the fact is, these are not the only possibilities, even if Gessler is telling the truth about being bought out. How many former clients of Gessler’s may have paid bills in 2011, or awarded monies, etc. with Gessler then entitled to his cut? Were any of those cases in fact wrapped up after Gessler became Secretary of State? Might the possibility of a larger (or for that matter, smaller) residual payout from those clients have affected how they were handled in the Secretary of State’s office? What were the terms of Gessler’s “buyout” from Hackstaff Law Group? What provision exists, if any, for Gessler going back to work there when he leaves office?

Wouldn’t you like to know the answer to these questions? And isn’t a little more than idle curiousity, since this is the only way to verify if what Gessler said a year ago was true?

Because here is evidence it may not be, and you’re being asked to take Gessler’s word. Again.

Comments

25 thoughts on “How Much Do You Trust Scott Gessler?

  1. If you weren’t getting to know until after the next election, I could see the upset. Since that’s not the case, why does it matter? He’s not getting recalled. Particularly if he was paid for work done before the Suthers opinion.

    If anything, it’s almost better. No liberal is going to forget, but an average voter might in the next two years. Next year makes a fuss for a possible primary* and could have the momentum to last until the general.

    So is Gessler a lying douche-nozzle? Probably. About this? Don’t know yet. No adjustment in opinion needed regardless.

    *I don’t think Gessler has been craptacular in the way just any old Republican could be. I could be wrong, but he might just be the absolute worst person for this particular job.

    1. I’m not an expert on these disclosure forms, but this sounds like we might find out if Gessler gets MORE money in 2012.

      But we’ll never know, if I’m reading this right, what the money Gessler got this year was actually for. And if there’s money next year we won’t know what that was for either, other than Gessler’s word and an apparently inadequate disclosure form.

      Hence the question, “do you trust Gessler?” And my answer, NO.

      1. I mean, ta da. This is it. He’s followed the law with the disclosure. Unless he says what people want to hear, no reasonable person is going to believe him. The man just isn’t trustworthy. Doesn’t mean he’s definitely lying this time. But it doesn’t really matter.

        It’s better to catch him having worked in January this year, before he knew that people read these things. He has an excuse this year. And that’s just really that.

        Kind of “Dolphins Still Missing” to me.

  2. you know ArapaBOT doesn’t get paid to post on weekends.  Now we’ll all have to wait until Monday (assuming he doesn’t get holidays) to find out why this is another manufactured liberals-in-vapors-over-nothing.

    Probably just some spare change that Hackstaff found in Gessler’s couch, and needed to return to him after he left?  Gotta file those Gummit’ forms anyway — important to comply with all those pesky laws.

    1. I’m sorry none of you have lives.

      As for this story, it’s another attempt by Pols to stir up speculation about an innocent man, a man they even kinda sorta admit is innocent while they “just ask questions.” It’s ironic to watch them do what they do and yet you call me a troll….

    1. Read 24-6-203

      Section 2 says

      …Such report shall be on forms prescribed by the secretary of state and shall contain, at a minimum, the name of the person from whom the item was received and the amount or value and the date of receipt…

      It’s not even clear that he needs to report at all:

      (4) The reports required by subsection (2) of this section need not include the following:…

      …(e) Payment of salary from employment, including other government employment, in addition to that earned from being a member of the general assembly or by reason of service in other public office.

        1. But then again, I am not an attorney.

          A more productive exercise might be to find and quote an elected official who supplies more information than she or he is required to.

          Most of them don’t.

        2. That was a really good catch, Blue.  I cited the wrong statute (told you I wasn’t an attorney).  I cited the gifts, honoraria, and other income statute.

          The right one, I believe, is 24-6-202 which IS listed at the top of the form.

          But as I read it (remember, I’m not an attorney nor do I play on on TV), I still don’t think he needs to disclose what he actually did for the money, just who he got it from:

          (2) Disclosure shall include:

          (a) The names of any source or sources of any income, including capital gains, whether or not taxable, of the person making disclosure, his spouse, and minor children residing with him;

          (b) The name of each business, insurance policy, or trust in which he, his spouse, or minor children residing with him has a financial interest in excess of five thousand dollars;

          (c) The legal description of any interest in real property, including an option to buy, in the state in which the person making disclosure, his spouse, or minor children residing with him have any interest, direct or indirect, the market value of which is in excess of five thousand dollars;

          (d) The identity, by name, of all offices, directorships, and fiduciary relationships held by the person making disclosure, his spouse, and minor children residing with him;

          (e) The identity, by name, of any person, firm, or organization for whom compensated lobbying is done by any person associated with the person making disclosure if the benefits of such compensation are or may be shared by the person making disclosure, directly or indirectly;

          (f) The name of each creditor to whom the person making disclosure, his spouse, or minor children owe money in excess of one thousand dollars and the interest rate;

          (g) A list of businesses with which the person making disclosure or his spouse are associated that do business with or are regulated by the state and the nature of such business or regulation;

          (h) Such additional information as the person making disclosure might desire.

    1. If I’m reading that correctly… You’re suggesting that if it weren’t what he says, he wouldn’t have put it on the form?

      Well if you aren’t, that’s what I was thinking anyway.

      But it’s not like he’s had any measure of shame so far, so maybe I’m/we’re? giving him too much credit.

  3. Scott Gessler worked for the firm up to the day he started as SOS, which I believe, was until early January of 2011

    Therefore, Gessler could be reporting income from early Jan 2011 or collecting on income owed from work in 2010 – believe me, Hackstaff wouldn’t be the first law firm that’s late in paying its lawyers – if that is the case, then Gessler did the right thing by reporting this publicly

    However, if Gessler want to run again, he will face pressure to produce two things –

    1. Tax returns reflecting how much he was paid by Hackstaff in 2011

    2. A letter from Hackstaff disclosing whether the payments were for work throughout the 2011 fiscal year, or whether they were for early Jan 2011 and back payments only

    This isn’t a bad thing for Scott Gessler, it only produces further questions – let us remember that the income report linked above is done by Gessler only with no authorities doing it – I’m glad he reported the income and he did the right thing – it produces more questions for him now, but he wouldn’t be the first ppolitician to have to prove his sources of income  

    1. unsavory “uncles”, Ali!  Jailbird Bruce, Obama-can-only-be-understood-in-the-context-of-Kenyan-anti-colonialism-and-who-needs-sick-aging-wives Newt and the worst SOS in living memory?  Say it ain’t so! That attic full of crazy uncles must be getting pretty crowded.

  4. Now you all seemed to trust Coffman.   He counted his own votes to become Congressman?  So why wouldn’t you believe Gessler?   It’s time to elect a real SOS.  I am personally not impressed. We need to stop this inactive active voter shit too.  Who cares?  You are either a registered voter or you aren’t  it’s pretty simple. But the inactiveactive stuff was presented like it saves counties money on mailing ballots. Well guess what I just went through the list of voters in my county and I found people that have moved out of state years ago that are registered to vote in other states still on our registered voter list.  WHY?  Their addresses are even out of state.  One guy moved in 07 and is still listed as a registered voter in Colorado and in Michigan.  But he’s inactive.  85% of the county clerks in Colorado are Republicans.  Maybe that has something to do with it.  Suggestions?  Is it the County Clerk and Recorders we should be looking at or Scott Gessler?  I say BOTH

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