by Caitlin Cater

In an era of attenuated public confidence in the electoral process, it’s not reassuring when a state’s chief election official becomes the subject of criminal and ethics investigations on the eve of a major election. Alas, that is what happened in Colorado this year, when, on November 5, both the Denver District Attorney’s Office and the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission announced that they are independently looking into whether Secretary of State Scott Gessler “violated the law by using state funds to attend a partisan event.”

This issue first came to light in October, when Colorado Ethics Watch, a left-leaning nonprofit watchdog organization, filed a request for investigation with the Denver District Attorney and the Denver Police Department, alleging that Gessler misused public funds when he submitted reimbursement forms for expenses incurred while attending the Republican National Convention and a Republican-sponsored election law training in August. Ethics Watch contends that “the Secretary’s Florida trip was manifestly personal and political, in which he participated only in partisan events, not in pursuit of state business.” Ethics Watch characterizes the group that sponsored the election law training, the Republican National Lawyers Association, as “a private organization of lawyers dedicated, among other things, to ‘advancing Republican ideals.’” Gessler was not a delegate to the 2012 Republican National Convention. Continue reading