As the legal campaign seeking accountability over the attempt by ex-President Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 presidential election has advanced to the criminal justice phase in the last few months, we’ve spent most of our time in this space discussing two lawyers with local ties involved in the plot who are now facing felony criminal charges in the state of Georgia–former University of Colorado Benson Center “conservative scholar” John Eastman, and Colorado Christian University’s Jenna Ellis. Eastman and Ellis were both involved in the development of an admitted illegal strategy to delay the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in order to supplant the lawful electors with Trump cronies.
But as Colorado Newsline’s Chase Woodruff reports today, another Colorado Republican attorney, infamous for his false claims about stolen elections years before Trump adopted casting doubt on elections as his strategy for holding on to power, is still on the payroll (and as far as we know, not in legal trouble himself) despite his own disastrous performance in 2020 trying to press Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. Longtime readers know him as the “Honey Badger,” but after false claims of election fraud nearly tore apart American democracy, we no longer find him deserving of any term of endearment:
Republican attorney Scott Gessler, who is representing Trump in the suit brought last week by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on behalf of six Colorado voters, served one term as Colorado’s secretary of state from 2011 to 2015…
In an unsuccessful bid for chair of the Colorado Republican Party in 2021, Gessler echoed Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen — claims that congressional and criminal investigations have described as part of a sweeping plot to overturn the election that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
During his term in office, Gessler was a vocal promoter of allegations of voter fraud, which elections experts and law enforcement agencies have consistently found is extremely rare, and which advocates criticize as a pretext for efforts to suppress legitimate votes. In the aftermath of the 2012 election, Gessler announced that he had referred 155 suspected cases of voter fraud to local prosecutors across Colorado. Only four people were charged, and prosecutors ultimately only secured a single conviction.
Former Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s thoroughly discredited campaign to prove that Colorado elections were being swung by tens of thousands of “illegal voters” went on for years in his office’s official capacity until finally collapsing in a heap after it became painfully obvious that nothing anywhere near what Gessler claimed was taking place. At the same time, Gessler’s brazen partisanship when it came to enforcing campaign finance laws weaponized the supposedly impartial Secretary of State’s office beyond the wildest aspirations of predecessors or successors.
By 2014, when Gessler decided to run for governor, his by-then discredited quest for “illegal voters” made him a pariah even in the Republican Party at that time. After several years in the wilderness fleecing half-baked recall campaigns, school board races, and other low-level shenanigans, in November of 2020 Gessler got the call to go to work for Trump. Representing the Trump campaign’s attempt to overturn the results in Nevada, the Nevada Independent reported how Gessler fared:
The much-touted evidence…failed to persuade Judge James Russell, who ultimately issued an order dismissing the case with prejudice, meaning the parties could not re-file a similar suit using the same claims…
A third expert provided by the campaign, Scott Gessler, was…questioned by Russell as he provided no exhibits or citations for his conclusions, and “based nearly all his opinions on a handful of affidavits that he took no steps to corroborate through independent investigation.”
The Nevada Supreme Court opinion tossing Trump’s suit in that state singled Gessler out for ridicule:
Contestants offered Mr. Gessler to opine on the transition to and administration of mail voting. Mr. Gessler’s report lacked citations to facts and evidence that he used to come to his conclusions and did not include a single exhibit to support of any of his conclusions.
Indeed, at one point in Gessler testimony he appears to have blown the whole case with a single admission:
Contestants’ own expert witness, Mr. Gessler…testified that he has no personal knowledge that any voting fraud occurred in Nevada’s 2020 General Election. [Pols emphasis]
After failing so dismally to assert Trump’s claims of fraud in 2020, it’s anybody’s guess why Trump is still willing to employ Gessler in 2023 to defend him in the lawsuit seeking to bar Trump from the 2024 primary ballot in Colorado. We assume it must be because in Trump’s view even failure is less consequential than disloyalty, and unlike Jenna Ellis no one has forced Gessler to take back his false statements in defense of Trump. Though not on the same national stage, Gessler certainly has made many of the same false claims about the 2020 that got Jenna Ellis censured by Colorado’s attorney regulators.
If there’s one thing Gessler is an expert at, though, it’s getting paid. Despite Trump’s notoriously poor treatment of his lawyers, if anyone has an ironclad contract to make sure the checks arrive in a timely manner it’s Scott Gessler.
We hope so, anyway, because as Ellis and Eastman can attest, the cost of representing Trump is steeper than anyone imagined in 2020.