Help Wanted: Secretary of State

October 6 2006, 4:51 PM
POSITION: Colorado Secretary of State QUALIFICATIONS: Positive attitude. Ability to work 40 hours in a week (occasionally). That's about it. I can finally see what the big attraction to being Colorado's Secretary of State (SOS) might be. You don't have do do anything that the law theoretically requires you to do. I know this because our current SOS, Republican Gigi Dennis, doesn't pay any attention to the law whatsoever...and nobody seems to care. I've written before about how Dennis is making a mockery not only of the office but of the entire electoral process, and every week it gets worse. Dennis has tried to change campaign rules that she isn't supposed to change, and the Colorado courts have basically told her to knock it off. President Bush came to town this week for a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, and Dennis lent her name to the event as an honorary c-chair - something the law says she is not supposed to do as an official IN CHARGE OF RUNNING ELECTIONS. And today we hear of a story in which the SOS office essentially admits that it doesn't make any effort to correct obvious omissions that are made in campaign finance reports. As Kerri Rebresh of Colorado Confidential reports (note: I am also involved with Colorado Confidential):
Colorado Confidential looked at reports filed by the major committees for each party: The Colorado Democratic Party committee and the Colorado Republican Committee. Each report shows the beginning balance and ending balance for a particular period. The ending balance for one period should match the beginning balance for the next. For example, if a committee has $1,034 at the end of a period on July 31, it should have $1,034 as the beginning balance of a new period on August 1. There's no reason that these figures shouldn't be the same, said Christi Heppard, campaign finance lead at the Secretary of State's office. "Yes, the ending balance of a committee should definitely equal the beginning balance of the next reporting period," she said. But, often they don't. In July, the Colorado Republican Committee lost a whopping $26,024 overnight. On April 1, almost $15,000 mysteriously appeared. The Democrats' numbers have been off several times, too, but not by nearly as much. The largest discrepancy for the Colorado Democratic Party committee was a 2006 New Year's Day surprise of an extra $3,514. The committee's figures didn't align a few other times throughout the year by amounts ranging between $1,000 and $2,000. Heppard said sometimes committees accidentally send the wrong report, which the Secretary of State's office then posts on its campaign finance Web site. "The system is not perfect," she said. "If people send us the wrong information, we have to apply what they send."
To recap, the SOS office basically says that they receive inaccurate and incomplete campaign finance reports all the time, AND THEY DON'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!! Excuse me for yelling, but this has long since reached the point of being completely absurd. The Colorado SOS office completely ignores numerous laws and regulations that they are supposed to be enforcing, and nobody seems to care. Can't we enforce this somehow? How does this continue with just a shrug? If nobody is going to enforce any of these laws, then why do we even have them? There is absolutely no incentive to be transparent in your political finance reports if the SOS won't do anything about it if you aren't. And how could we take Dennis seriously anyway when she herself knowingly dismisses laws that are meant to keep her position from becoming too partisan? It's too bad that the public probably isn't going to get excited about this, because they should. The office that is basically in charge of running our democracy in Colorado could care less about doing its job. It's more than a damn shame - it's criminal. And it's probably going to continue right on through the November election.