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July 03, 2013 02:07 PM UTC

Recall Attorney Asks "Honey Badger's" Office To Recuse

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE 5:00PM: As expected, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert (R) rules against the constitutional challenge to Morse's recall petition. The case will now move to district court.


UPDATE: The Colorado Independent's Tessa Cheek supplies useful additional backstory:

Gessler and Morse also have a history of butting heads.

Morse spearheaded a move in 2011 to draw $4 million in surplus funds from the Secretary’s office. The cash was offered to the General Assembly by Gessler’s Democratic predecessor but the move was opposed by Gessler and his Republican supporters at the capitol.

Buescher was a frugal administrator, Morse said during debate over the proposal, referencing reports that Gessler had complained about his new public-sector salary. “This is the same secretary of state who said he couldn’t live on $68,500 a year.”

Morse later became the subject of a headline-grabbing but ultimately dismissed ethics complaint capitol insiders suspected was at least encouraged by Gessler. The Colorado Statesman reported that Stephanie Cegielski, the author of the complaint, was a conservative-political activist with past ties to Gessler. Cegielski dedicated half of the ethics complaint she filed against Morse concerning his per diem spending to “criticizing Morse for going after funds in the Secretary of State’s office,” as The Statesman, put it.

Christine Le Lait, campaign manager for A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, said the conflict of interest issues raised by the recent protest to the recall petitions should train a spotlight on the secretary’s office…


Honey badgers (plural).
Honey badgers (plural).

A bit of drama today at the Secretary of State's office today, where attorneys seeking the disqualification of recall petitions against Colorado Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron on constitutional grounds asked for Scott Gessler's office to recuse itself from the process entirely. The request is based (in part) on a trip Gessler took to Pueblo last March, more or less providing advice to recall organizers. FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Gessler, who walked out of his office and encountered reporters following the hearing, declined to comment on the suggestion that he was biased in favor of the recall organizers and that his own bias was shared by his deputy.

Staiert, who didn’t expect attorneys to even show up for Wednesday’s scheduled protest hearing in the Giron case — because Grueskin’s argument to disqualify Giron recall petitions is the same as what he laid out last week in the Morse hearing, both sides had agreed to forgo a formal hearing and submit briefs by email — said that she and Gessler have never discussed either recall case…

Richard Westfall, the attorney representing the groups trying to recall Morse and Giron, told reporters that there’s no proof that Gessler’s bias extends to Staiert.

“She is the one who’s the hearing officer, she is the one making the decision,” he said. “I don’t think any allegations regarding the Secretary — there’s no indication that there’s any bias by the deputy secretary who’s hearing the protest.”

Deputy Secretary Suzanne Staiert, a former Littleton City Attorney, as Stokols reports has been a vocal supporter of Gessler during his recent ethics complaint and subsequent admonishment for having "breached the public trust for private gain"–to the point of raging against the Independent Ethics Commission as a "kangaroo court" on Gessler's behalf, part of a series of Tweets that were deleted from Staiert's account sometime before the recall hearings began. This undeniably creates the appearance that they share a personal, or at least partisan loyalty.

Bottom line: regardless of how the Secretary of State's office rules, this is in all likelihood headed to court, as the losing party on either side is virtually certain to appeal. But it's useful once again to point out the rank partisanship, and partisan actors, at least initially in charge of Colorado's elections process. Not just for his trip to Pueblo to talk to recall organizers, neither Gessler nor anyone who reports to him should get the final word here.

And we'll say it: this is why you hear more talk about nonpartisan elections administration in Colorado these days.


22 thoughts on “Recall Attorney Asks “Honey Badger’s” Office To Recuse

  1. Until non-partisan elections administration is a reality, one more reason never, ever to vote for any Republican for any office, period. The risk is simply too great.

    1. That's an absolutely accurate statement. I'll go farther. The damage to a free and open democearic society exponentially increases, the possibility of fair treatment, opportunity, and an open market decreases, with every republican elected any where, at any time, under any circumstance, in this nation.

      1. Civil Unions are legal in Hawaii due to the efforts of two Republicans in the House there. Probably would or have happened otherwise.

        We've got some good Republican politicians here too. And we've got some Dems that are total hacks.

        A republican majority in either house – agree totally. Someone like Gessler in any executive slot – agree totally. But saying they're all evil – are you any better then than a tea party member who will never consider a Dem?

        1. Sorry David. We all know about your mom. But the overwhelming majority of present day Republican pols are so toxic, anything that contributes to the growth of collective Republican power should be opposed. Every individual elected Republican contributes to collective Republican power.  Dems aren't blameless or perfect but, as things stand today, Dem collective power is simply nowhere nears as damaging and destructive as Republican collective power and is, in fact, often a positive force.

          Even a crappy Dem contributes to the Dem Senate majority that is infinitely to be preferred over a Republican Senate majority. Even a Dem President who sometimes disappoints is infinitely to be preferred over a Republican one who would have veto power and the power to appoint more Supreme Court justices.

          I couldn't possibly, in good conscience, vote for any component of the vile Republican collective that devotes itself to treating women and minorities as enemies to be controlled and suppressed and middle to low income Americans as disposable losers under any circumstances and no matter the attributes of the individual component in question. So my recommendation stands: Don't vote for any Republican. Period. Not until the present GOP lies in ruins and a new one emerges.

          Oh, and one can also assume that those "good" Republicans you think we should consider supporting as individuls of merit do endorse, contribute to and promote the election of other Republicans, don't they?

          1. Well said.  I might not have agreed with this in years past, but the GOP party faithful and leaders are doing nothing to clean up their ranks, they support their candidates no matter how extreme, and they support the regressive anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-poor policies these extremists push. 

            1. I see a distinction between Republicans who are trying to do good work in public policy, and those who are trying to clean up their Party ranks.  Clearly there are some in the first category around the U.S. – I'm not seeing evidence of anything happening in the second category.


              1. You don't see the ones trying to clean things up winning. But you do see them trying. David Frum is one example – I disagree with him a lot but he was a strong voice trying to steer the party back to sanity.

                1. Sorry, no. I can't risk giving them a vote until I see some sanity. I voted for Steve King because I knew him  to be a reasonable, intelligent man. Now he's just like the rest of them, spouting the same partisan lies. So while I'm disappointed, I'm not a fool.

            2. I don't see any trying very hard or having any success in changing the direction of their party.  I see the few who . themselves have some decent policy goals continuing to support their fellow Republicans, who overwhelmingly have poisonous, hateful, destructive, policy goals. Bottom line, as party members they are involved in supporting, raising funds and voting for their fellow Republicans, almost all of whom are   pushing awful policies.

              A major tear down and rebuild of a party that has become such a negative force is the only solution. The sooner the party as a whole loses power in their present iteration the sooner some will start that rebuilding or create an entirely new party. The best way to promote that change is to vote against all supporters of  today's despicable GOP.  Every single one elected just helps keep the monster alive. You don't think they help elect the scum? You're deluding yourself.

            3. OMG.  David really doesn't care about rational policies and good government.  His whole concern is projecting Republicans as cuddly teddy bears who we should vote because by golly they need some self-esteem building.  Barf.  How can you possibly support anyone who wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with rule by corporations.  Pull your head out of your Democratic ass David.

        2. Must echo BC. Sorry, David. Our affiliatiations reflect our identity. "Good Republicans"? A few good apples…a few bad apples…the Republican barrel is ideologically rotten and if there are a few good (R) apples still in there, they should scrub themselves of the (R) label or get tossed with the rest of the barrel.

          The Republican party is a cruel, nihilistic, anti-American monstrosity hell bent on shredding the fabric of our society. Its power must be gutted at every level in every way.

          A recent Michael Cohen analysis in The Guardian sums up the gruesome current final version of the Repubalican Party:

          For those who have friends or loved ones who cling to the (R) identity, I can only say, "Sadly, reality sucks."

          1. The Guardian article is a good summary of some of what the GOP is pushing in D.C. and around the country.  And they aren't done yet – one extremist act after another appears to energize them. 

            Sadly, it reminds me of the typical path of a domestic abuser – if the system does not control him (almost always a him), his crimes will escalate often ending in the death of the person he is victimizing.


        3. What else would you expect from a Republican apologist who sees wisdom and compassion in everything that Republicans do and weakness and incompetence in everything that Democrats do?  No surprises there.

          I think I could vote for a Republican at the local level but they would have to be a really special person or someone I personally know.

          1. Please just say no. That's how the far right gained so much power in the first place; running for low profile local positions such as school boards and city councils. Just bear in mind that anyone willing to remain associated with today's GOP is part of the problem. Those who really refuse to countenance what the party has become have left it already. I've asked Dave repeatedly who his GOP pol mother has supported and voted for in recent elections. He's never answered, probably because he would then have to admit that mom is part of the problem. They all are.

            The only exception I would make, and I have had to a grand total of once relatively recently, would be for the least bad running in a non-partisan local election with no Dem opponent. This happened one year when my city council choices were a moderate R, one of a dying breed, and a wacko libertarian type rightie loon. Otherwise no way, no how, no matter the R's qualifications.

  2. Thank you. I think that the political paybacks are creeping up on Mr. Gessler, much as the cobra venom is oozing inside the body of the honey badger in this video.  I have no idea why our Sec of State is referred to as the "honey badger", but the narration on this video is hilarious.  You are responsible for creating your own political metaphors,if any.  Note – this video is NSFSA – Not safe for sensitive souls.


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