How Scott Gessler Makes Stuff Happen? Leaked Email Raises Questions

A very interesting post today over at the Junction Daily Blog, where our friend Ralphie reprints an email from Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler to an unnamed Mesa County Republican from the end of March. The subject? Senate Bill 109, the bill to solve problems uncovered last year with mail ballots and so-called “inactive-failed to vote” voters. As you know, that bill died in the GOP-controlled House at Gessler’s urging, leading to a call from Colorado Democrats to remove Gessler from office by recall or other legal methods.

Mesa County’s Republican clerk, Shiela Reiner, just wouldn’t cooperate:

Right now, Sheila Reiner is convinced this will save 20k per year. She is flat out wrong, and fails to recognize how this will hurt voter integrity. By contrast, most other clerks, except democrats and a handful of liberal republicans, are dead set against the bill.

That includes Arapahoe county and El Paso. Laura Bradford, chair of the committee for the hearing tomorrow, plans to vote her county, which currently means Sheila’s position. I’m confident if people in Mesa have the full story, they will be outraged that something like this could become law in Colorado.

The same goes for Don Coram. I think he’s backed himself into a corner, even though his clerks, like Fran Long in Montrose, are steadfast against this bill.

At a minimum, it would be good to delay the bill so that people – and Laura – can get full information before them. Do you know anyone who can talk to Bradford? Could some county commissioners talk to her, since it is Mesa that will have added costs, and regardless of whether everyone thinks things in Mesa are hunky-dory, you have to ask yourself if everything is just fine in Denver and Pueblo. It is not.



A few points, some of which were noted by Ralphie:

1. Senate Bill 109 was killed shortly after this email was sent in Rep. Laura Bradford’s Local Government Committee. So we’d assume that this lobbying by proxy request was successful! The problem is that there are already people whose job it is to lobby on behalf of the Secretary of State, and it probably wasn’t the recipient of this email.

2. As Ralphie asks, what does Gessler mean when he indicates things are not “just fine” in Denver and Pueblo? Not “just fine,” meaning what exactly? Ralphie asked Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz, who responded only that his county complies with “all state laws.” In terms of an actual substantiated allegation that has been made? We haven’t seen one.

3. Also noted by Ralphie–this email was sent from Gessler’s personal email address,, even though it would certainly seem to be pertinent to official business. Moreover, Gessler appears to have cc:ed his official spokesman Rich Coolidge, at Coolidge’s personal Comcast email address. Ralphie logically asks if this was meant to circumvent a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request. It unsettlingly looks that way.

In conclusion, it’s clear that Gessler very much wanted SB-109 to die, and it appears that he was taking extraordinary, maybe even unethical steps to ensure it did. Particularly since this was the same bill that precipitated the call by Colorado Democrats to remove Gessler from office, the contents of this “personal” email scheming against it could become a major issue.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Alexei says:

    Surely you jest!

  2. Middle of the Road says:

    Colorado Ethics Watch has filed a formal request with Gessler’s office for records and all related correspondence, including but not limited to emails, as required by C.R.S. В§ 24-72-203(2) and 204(4).  

  3. ArapaGOP says:

    Gessler is entitled to communicate with anyone he wants. Personal emails are not excluded from CORAs, and it’s only a crime if he fails to produce an email when asked. No harm no foul.

    Good luck grasping at your latest straws though!

    • droll says:

      “Hey! I found this overdue movie. Case solved. Now it’s off for frosty chocolate milkshakes.”

      You’re doing worse than usual. A switch to decaf?

    • Aristotle says:

      I bet that stuff automatically gets turned over, and doesn’t require some particular obscure legalese phrasing in order to happen.

      Puh-leeze. We’ve already seen how hard it is to get anything via CORA, so don’t pull that BS with us.

    • VanDammer says:

      good thing AGOP can dose us with a bit of his reality.  All these gonna-get-Gessler folks on ColPols and CO Ethics Watch just seem a little too eager to catch Gessler acting all partisan and taking time & effort to actively lobby against SB109.  

      Hmm, is he registered to lobby?  Did his email suggest that he wants to pressure State Sens into forcing a delay on the bill just to play more politics?  Does Scott really have our best interest at heart … I mean is he really working for the good of the people or is he doing someone else’s bidding?  Well, I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head and will sleep good 2night knowing AGOP will let me know when something deserves

    • It won’t be on Gessler’s computer or in the state’s email system.  That isn’t the way to run a responsible government.

  4. droll says:

    Ralphie said that it doesn’t really matter who the SoS actually sent it to and I’m willing to take his word and follow that logic.

    I have a question about it anyway: Was it purposely leaked?

    Doesn’t really matter at all (and no one should feel obligated to answer), just interested to know if someone screwed up or made a very politically daring move.

    • Libertad 2.0 says:

      But it appears that Gessler is enlisting the person’s help in finding someone to talk to Bradford about the bill. Perhaps the recipient forwarded this e-mail to others who might be willing to do some unofficial lobbying on Gessler’s behalf and that’s how it winded up getting forwarded to Ralphie.

  5. allyncooper says:

    Looks like you have your own Deep Throat out there. Maybe Gessler will start up a “plumbers unit” at the SOS to stop the leaks.  

  6. Albert J. Nock says:

    You blowhards will try anything to get a Democrat back into the SofS.

  7. used by the Bush (43) administration and in Scott Walker’s office in Milwaukee before he was elected as governor (and, for all we know, after he was elected governor, too).

    Set up an external e-mail communication stream to discuss official business outside of the official channels, so that when subpoenas go flying, the mail is nowhere to be found – it simply goes “missing”, if anyone ever even suspects it exists in the first place.

    I don’t know if this is illegal under Colorado’s CORA implementation, but if it isn’t, it should be.

  8. shrubHugger says:

    This is common practice. CORA is really toothless unless you know what you are doing. That’s why when you submit one, you should phrase it to say “all electronic communications pertaining to…” and not limit it to specific email addresses or account holders. Trust me when I say I know from personal experience all the little tricks to really limit CORA requests.  

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