Hardball: Hackstaff Gessler Mailer Targets GOP County Clerks

SUNDAY UPDATE #3: FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

The flier from that new group, which isn’t even registered with the state but lists its address as that of the Hackstaff Law Group, Gessler’s old firm, is a revealing microcosm, just the latest display of a ham-handed political operation on the right. [Pols emphasis]

Beyond the half-shade of separation between the group and the polarizing Secretary of State, the flier itself is almost ridiculous in its hyperbole, stating: “Felons, illegal aliens — even the deceased – could cast ballots!”

If that were the case, H.B. 1303 likely wouldn’t have the support of the Colorado County Clerks Associations, which represents roughly 75 percent of the state’s clerks, more than half of whom are Republicans…


SUNDAY UPDATE #2: Via Junction Daily Blog, confirmation now that the same mailer was sent into La Plata County targeting another Republican clerk, Tiffany Lee Parker. The La Plata County mailing uses the same verbiage, the same Hackstaff Law Firm return address, and the same altered photo of a line of voters with African-American faces digitally removed.


SUNDAY UPDATE: The Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports:

While the bill makes several changes to voter registration laws, such as allowing for registering up to Election Day, it doesn’t change how those registrations are done and how voters are verified as eligible to cast ballots, Reiner said.

The flier, however, claims the measure would open the door to “illegal aliens” and the deceased to cast ballots.

Reiner said that’s just nonsense.

“The reality of it is it still requires somebody to bring either their driver’s license, their Colorado ID or the last four digits of their Social Security number and it’s verified in our system,” Reiner said. “With the bill, that doesn’t change.”

…The measure has the support of nearly all county clerks in the state, most of whom are Republicans like Reiner. It is being pushed by the Colorado County Clerk’s Association and its executive director, Donetta Davidson.

Also, a commenter this morning appears to have identified something that, if true, is quite shocking and could add another ugly dimension to this story. If you look closely at the center of the second page of the mailing, at the photo of the voting line, you see two women who look strangely alike. A look at the original photo reveals what happened:


We're astonished to even report this, but it's undeniable: they have Photoshopped out the African-American woman in the original photo. They also appear to have removed an African-American man standing behind her (see photos in comments below).

In the ugliest off-year that anyone we know can remember in Colorado politics, it appears we have hit yet another new low–and this one just makes you shake your head, folks. The worst adjectives you can think of really might actually apply to the deplorable gutter politics on display here. Original post follows.


Sent to us this afternoon, as arriving in mailboxes throughout beet-red Mesa County this weekend:

reinermailer1This mailing is hitting Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner on her support for House Bill 1303, the Colorado Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act updating a number of election laws and procedures. Very hard-hitting from a conservative point of view, this mailer warns that if House Bill 1303 passes, "felons, illegal immigrants, even the deceased could cast ballots!" Reiner is working with Barack Obama, says this mailer, to "undermine elections and allow rampant voter fraud." "Don't let the Democrats use HB 1303 to throw away your vote!"

By now, some of you have realized, based on your own knowledge, that

1. House Bill 1303 doesn't do any of that, and
2. Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner is a Republican.

But during the acrimonious debate over House Bill 1303 this past week, the fact that it is supported by elections officials in both parties from all across the state has emerged as a glaring inconsistency as legislative Republicans have insisted the bill has "no bipartisan support." This mailer neatly sidesteps that problem by treating Republican county clerks as if they're Democrats! Which keeps the messaging, you know, uncomplicated.

One other point you'll find noteworthy is the return address for the group responsible for this mailing, the so-called "Citizens for Free and Fair Elections."


Yes, we know they're not called Hackstaff Gessler anymore. But you get the point.

It's not the first red-on-red treachery we've documented, but this kind of open political warfare on behalf of a sitting Secretary of State against county clerks in his own party is, at least in our experience, very much unprecedented.

58 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ClubTwitty says:

    This is of course the electorate that elected Jard Wright–who likes to tweet links to InfoWars.com as source material to 'back up' his wingnuttery.  Ray "API' Scott, and Steve '80s' King.  It will probably work there, it is low-info voter land where all you need is a T after your name to get elected. 

  2. DavidThi808 says:

    Everyone in the picture is white. Is that on purpose?

      • ClubTwitty says:

        Yes.  No 'probably.'  This is total slimeball politics, brought to us by Mr. Gessler's ilk. 

        • Duke Cox says:

          I'm sure you are right, CT. I was being generous. Gessler is setting the slime bar higher and higher. That trend must reflect his political ambitions.

          He has so many heroes to emulate…Rove, DeLay, Cheney, Rumsfelt, DeMint, etc. He must be trying to earn a place among the big players.

    • bullshit! says:

      Yes it is on purpose, because I just found the original image, which appears to be from the WaPo, and THEY PHOTOSHOPPED OUT THE BLACK PERSON. Oh my God.

      As you can see, I'm not making it up. The woman in the gray hoodie in the center of the picture was originally African-American, BUT THEY PHOTOSHOPPED THE WHITE WOMAN NEXT TO HER OVER HER FACE.

      I looked at this image this morning and saw that it looked funny. Then I simply Googled "voting line" and found the original in about a minute.

      Holy shit these people are dirty.

    • davebarnes says:

      Well, according to the Wiki, the black population of Mesa County is "0.46% " So, I think they were just adjusting the photo to reflect the makeup of Mesa voters. The partial face of the black man behind the bald male is the 1/2%.

  3. DaftPunk says:

    h/t to Ralphie? 

    JDB's Facebook page broke this ten hours prior.

  4. MADCO says:

    Are there any GOTP candidates out there who are not convicted felons?  I mean not counting the ones who DUI with guns.

    • ClubTwitty says:

      The city councilman has not been convicted, yet. 

      I believe the representative technically resigned under duress from his last job as a public employee (alledgedly) grafting tax dollars.

      It was never proven conclusively that Craig Meis actually tried to use his office to avoid the accountability to law and rules the rest of us 'little people' regularly must comply with. 

      Is plagarism really a crime? Highly unethical–yes, felony, no.  Of course, breach of contract is a civil matter.  But he gave the money back, eventually, after throwing Rolly under the bus–also only dispicable and shameful, but not a crime. 

      Hope that clears it up.  Its a fine bunch of elected officals over there in Mesa County. 

  5. ClubTwitty says:

    I guess racist pig is another term to attach to our fine Person-of-State (POS)'s former law firm, the same one he wanted to keep moonlighting for? 

    • ajb says:

      The lawyers at Gessler's former law firm may or may not be racist, but they sure thinks that their fellow Republicans are! (and who would know better?)

      • ClubTwitty says:

        As far as I see it–this level of cynicism to manipulate your fearful, xenophobic base is racist.  No one can discern intent inside a person's head–we have to judge by word and action.  By, the fruit it bears a tree is known and all that.  I stand by my analysis. 

  6. Pita says:

    Free and Fair Elections are only for white, "Christian" right wing/tea party types that don't want anyone that disagrees with them to have a free and fair election.  Right?  Right!

  7. DavidThi808 says:

    I want to take a second to congratulate the county clerks. They've clearly focused on improving the voting process for all instead of using it for partisian advantage. They are all owed a major thank you from all of us for doing their job well.

    • BlueCat says:

      Agree.  During my time here as an active Dem, have never had a problem of suspicious goings on in Arapahoe County because of a GOP County Clerk.  Overwhelmingly, our state's County Clerks have been devoted to fairness rather than partisanship in overseeing elections, unlike our sleazy SOS.

      No wonder he's targeting them.  He must think that their mere existence makes him look even worse by comparison.  Gessler needn't worry about that. He couldn't look any worse short of the dead girl, live little boy scenario.

  8. ClubTwitty says:

    I want to take a second to congratulate Daft Punk.  This is shameful and it would be nice if the so-called MSM covered it. 

    • gertie97 says:

      The Grand Junction Sentinel covered it, but I'm not holding my breath about the Denver paper.


      • ClubTwitty says:

        The media should report that the photo was intentionally altered to remove African-Americans.  It is dispicable, it shows how deserate Mr. Gessler and his ilk are, and it shows how hopeless Reince's $10 million outreach will be.  Most of all it is very troubling and cockroaches run from light (I grew up in the SOuth and spent some time in GJ smashing 'waterbugs').  Shine it on their sorry crawling selves. 

    • ClubTwitty says:

      Or rather…to congratulate Bullshit!  Good work.  This story has legs. 

  9. BlueCat says:

    If this legislation is a Dem plot to to overpower GOP voters with felons, dead people  etc. why does it have so much support among Republican County Clerks? ArapG? Anyone?  Care to explain?  Are all those R clerks really RINOs who hate America and freedom and stuff?

    • ajb says:

      Don't worry, EF will be along shorty to argue that you can't prove the photo was photoshopped. It could have been altered with GIMP or other image software. Therefore, everything you say is wrong.

      • BlueCat says:

        In nifty Latin legal terms, too.

      • Curmudgeon says:

        I doubt even EF could find a way to defend this one. It's too stupid, too blatant, to racist for him to dare.  He knows he'd be pounded into pretentious, self-important jelly in such an argument, so he wouldn't engage. 

        Guppy, on the other hand, is just waiting for everyone to go to sleep before he posts.

        • BlueCat says:

          There's always the old no matter what no one knows what's in their hearts argument.  I've heard that one from EF. You know….  just because it looks like a racist and talks like a racist and walks like a racist, you still can't know if it has a racist heart. Guess that would require surgery. Or maybe just going through airport security.

  10. allyncooper says:

    Why, even the deceased could vote!  Hey, don't knock it, that's what elected Jack Kennedy. Actually the religious right Republicans should be in favor of letting the deceased vote. They seem inordinately preoccupied with the hereafter, so why not enfranchise the dead?

  11. Craig says:

    I agree with everything folks say except for one thing.  The Hackstaff Law Firm is a political law firm.  They represent lots of political groups.  Lawyers are often the registered agent for their clients.  I'm personally the registered agent for over 100 entities here in Colorado.  If you blamed me for everything my clients did, well, I'd be in a heap of trouble.  I make my money by getting my clients out of trouble when they are already in trouble.  The fact that a Republican PAC is registered at the Hackstaff firm doesn't mean that the firm itself, or for that matter, Gessler knew anything about this mailer.


    Someone ought to do some research to see what this PAC is and who is behind it.  Who gave it money?  Who are the people controlling the PAC?  What do we know about it?  These may lead you back to Gessler or perhaps even Hackstaff, though I have my doubts.  The same address means nothing.  Every law firm in town that deals with business probably has some entity for which its address is used as the registered agent for a Colorado entity.

    Why do we do it you might ask?  It's simple.  It helps lawyers keep in contact with clients and perhaps generate more business.  It's all about the money.  I even give this service away for free.

    • PolitiComm says:

      Good point. Be sure to tell Glenn Beck to roll this into his Benghazi-Boston conspiracy theory cry-fest tomorrow.

    • BlueCat says:

      Thanks, Craig.  it's always nice to have someone arounf d who knows what they're talking about to keep us grounded.

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      I'm personally the registered agent for over 100 entities here in Colorado.  If you blamed me for everything my clients did, well, I'd be in a heap of trouble.

      With all due respect, I think that goes with the territory of being the agent for a political group. That's not exactly an everyday problem. Sorry, bub.

      • Early Worm says:

        I agree Jeffco. Gessler's old firm's address is the principal street address for the entity. It is not just that the firm is the registered agent. I don't think Hackstaff or Nicolais prepared the flyer or photoshopped the people of color. I also understand that political groups that mail this type of crap like to hide behind a wall of lawyers to protect their identity. But, it still looks bad for Gessler by association.

    • ArapaGOP says:

      Thanks for the voice of reason. There is no evidence that Gessler had any involvement, or that his former law firm is responsible for anything more than providing a mailing address. Pols shoots from the hip wrongly once again.

      • ClubTwitty says:

        And once again The Bot swings by to stake his ground representing the party of personal non-responsibility and perpetual mean-liberal victimhood.   Why, bot, does this random entity think your base is so scared of non-whites that a terribly apparent PhotoShop job was in order?  How's Reince's outreach going? 

  12. ClubTwitty says:

    ProgressNow Calls on Gessler to "Condemn Racist Attack Mailers Against GOP Clerks"

    "These dishonest and racially-charged attacks from Republicans against fellow Republicans are beneath contempt," said Franklin. "It is truly shameful the depths Gessler and his cronies will descend to in order to prevent common-sense reforms meant to improve access for legal Colorado voters. To say that Colorado deserves better than such shameless treachery is an understatement."

  13. ClubTwitty says:

    So I wonder if the dirty dark money shop that put this smear piece together is 1) paying for this image from Getty Images and 2) if they have permission to alter it from the copyright holder.



    People wait in line to vote at Caroline High School on November 6, 2012 in Milford, Virginia.

    (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    Getty lisc info

    So, how does that work–say the dar money shop didn't bother to either or both above?  Can Hackstaff claim it is just a client service if actual misdeeds, not just skullduggery, were done? 


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