Colorado Secretary Of State Under Investigation For Taxpayer-Funded Trip To GOP Voter Suppression Meeting

Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R-CO)

Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R-CO)

The Denver District Attorney and and Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission will investigate allegations that Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R) improperly used taxpayer dollars to travel to a Republican election law event hosted by a pro-voter suppression group and to his party’s national convention.

Gessler was elected in 2010 on a platform of fighting “election fraud” — a largely non-existent problem — and of guaranteeing “fair and open elections.” But, the Coloradoan reports, he traveled in July to a Republican National Lawyers Association election law conference which included a panel presentation on the role of states and voter ID laws and charged $1,105.17 for the trip to his office budget. He also requested and received reimbursement from his office’s discretionary fund to pay for his travel to the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August. Colorado forbids such expenditures for personal or political purposes and violations could constitute a misdemeanor.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday:

Gessler’s office responded to the announcement of the review Monday by saying, “We welcome a thorough review.”

Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint last month against Gessler that alleged he misappropriated public funds because he was reimbursed for attending political events.

Independent Ethics Commission Jane Feldman says the amount of money in question is $1,570.51. She says Gessler could be fined up to double that amount if he is found to have violated rules.

The Denver District Attorney’s office has launched a formal criminal investigation.

The Republican National Lawyers Association claims its mission is “advancing open, fair and honest elections,” but has strongly advocated for strict voter ID laws to combat “voter fraud.”

When actually in Colorado, Gessler has spent much of his time pushing a failed voter purge which found at most 35 cases of non-citizen voting out of the 2,401,462 total votes cast in the state’s 2008 presidential election — less than 0.0015 percent of the vote.