Senator Gail Schwarz Hits Incoming Secretary of State Scott Gessler With Elections Accusations

November 22 2010, 2:00 PM

In his victory speech earlier this month, Scott Gessler said his election as Colorado's secretary of state was a job he'd take seriously, ensuring the office "meets the highest standards of integrity and fairness. We need fair elections, because ultimately, that is the foundation of our government." But state Senator Gail Schwartz has questions about the way a political group "linked" to Gessler treated her during the November midterms. Schwartz was pictured in "tasteless" campaign mailers depicting her as Donald Trump, and she alleges the group, Western Tradition Partnership, failed to properly disclose who paid for the mailers, according to Real Aspen. "One of my top priorities is to go and see how we can put in place some controls” to require greater accountability of groups that send out such mailers, Schwarts says, adding, "The irony is to have Scott Gessler come in and be in office when he is apparently part of the problem."

The group is registered by Mario Daniel Nicolais II of the Hackstaff Gessler law firm in Denver, but did not appear to file the required election documents in a timely fashion, says Schwartz, who is mulling the possibility of a formal complaint with outgoing Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, a Democrat. Schwartz may also pursue tougher disclosure legislation in the upcoming legislative session.

Meanwhile, Colorado Ethics Watch is also considering filing a complaint in the case. Director Luis Toro says Gessler's career has focused on "chipping away at these disclosure laws and chipping away at campaign finance laws and arguing that the First Amendment means that corporations can spend unlimited money to influence elections without disclosure." Gessler has declined to comment, but he reminds Real Aspen that he's an attorney who represents clients.