Gessler: Following law an "absurdity"




Poor Scott Gessler.

Apparently, the first-term Colorado secretary of state thought his job gave him special powers. (Able to change laws with the strike of his pen! Capable of making big money election funders invisible!)

The series of strike-downs he's received since taking office must be disappointing to him. Turns out, the secretary of state is supposed to uphold law, not make it.

This morning another e-mail from our troubled secretary of state popped up in my inbox. It explained that Gessler tried to cut down reporting requirements for candidates and committees, "to resolve the conflict and avoid the absurdity" of all that paperwork — that would be the paperwork that tells voters who is funding their elections. To achieve this efficiency, Gessler simply unilaterally made a new rule.

The thing is, those reporting requirements aren't just a suggestion. They're mandated by law. The secretary of state just doesn't think he needs to follow the law.

The Legislature disagrees. And thus, Gessler has had to change his tune, and send out this rather irritated and unrepentant e-mail to Colorado's candidates and committees:

This is an important message about the reporting schedule for all state candidates and committees active in the 2012 election. Please read the entire message, because starting January 30, 2012, you will be required to file campaign finance reports every two weeks.

Background for biweekly reporting

Last year, the General Assembly moved the primary date from mid-August to late June, 2012. This move created a conflict in Colorado’s campaign finance reporting requirements. On one hand, Colorado law requires quarterly reports in an off-year, followed by monthly reports. On the other hand, another statute states that biweekly reports start in July before the primary. With a June primary, that literally means 26 biweekly reports starting July 5, 2011 and ending June 18, 2012.

In order to resolve the conflict and avoid the absurdity of 26 biweekly reports, I passed a rule requiring all active candidates and committees to file reports according to the off-year and monthly filing schedules.

On December 14, the legislative committee that oversees rules voted that this office exceeded its authority in creating this rule. By an 8-2 vote, the committee made it clear that this office had no authority to pass the rule and should have required everyone to begin biweekly reports on July 5, 2011.

Your new, biweekly reporting schedule

In order to follow the legislature’s guidance, my office is rescinding the previous reporting rule, effective January 30, 2012. This means all committees active in the 2012 election must begin biweekly reports on January 30, 2012.

Please note that this office will not require you to retroactively file the 14 biweekly reports from July 5, 2011, until January 3, 2012, unless the legislature takes further action.

Your new reporting schedule is as follows:


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