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The Secretary's Written Closing Argument

The Secretary's Written Closing Argument

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Written closing argument of Secretary of State Scott Gessler, Colorado Independent Ethics Commission Complaint 12-01 (In re Scott E. Gessler)
Written closing argument of Secretary of State Scott Gessler, Colorado Independent Ethics Commission Complaint 12-01 (In re Scott E. Gessler)

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Published by: Colorado Ethics Watch on Jun 12, 2013
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01/14/2014

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BEFORE THE INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMISSIONSTATE OF COLORADOCASE NO. 12-07In the Matter of SCOTT E. GESSLER, Colorado Secretary of StateTHE SECRETARY’S WRITTEN CLOSING ARGUMENT
Pursuant to the Commission’s request at the June 7, 2013 hearing, RespondentColorado Secretary of State Scott E. Gessler (“the Secretary”) respectfully submits hiswritten closing argument in IEC Case No. 12-07.
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 I. INTRODUCTION
Last Friday’s hearing confirmed what the Secretary represented to thisCommission nearly six months ago in his December 20, 2012 response to the partisan, baseless, and costly complaint submitted by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics inWashington, d/b/a “Colorado Ethics Watch” (“CREW”): The undisputed evidence in thiscase demonstrates that the Secretary legally, ethically, and appropriately utilized the$1,818.89 in state funds in dispute in this case. Every witness and every shred of evidence, including the Commission’s own investigator and CREW’s own witnesses andexhibits, confirmed this at last Friday’s hearing. The Commission heard no evidence of any ethical violations – because no such evidence exists. Thus, CREW has not met its
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Per the Commission’s request, the Secretary kept this submission brief. In addition tothe testimony and exhibits presented at the June 7, 2013 hearing, the Secretaryspecifically incorporates his December 20, 2012 substantive response to CREW’scomplaint, along with Exhibits A through M and undersigned counsel’s 12/21/2012,1/4/2013, and 1/14/2013 emails with the Commission’s Executive Director.
 
2evidentiary burden in this case, and the Commission must clear the Secretary of allwrongdoing in IEC Case No. 12-07.
II. THE UNDISPUTED EVIDENCE IN THIS CASE DEMONSTRATESTHAT THE SECRETARY LEGALLY, ETHICALLY, ANDAPPROPRIATELY UTILIZED THE $1,818.89 IN STATE FUNDS.
1. The Governor receives an annual salary of $90,000; the Attorney Generalreceives $80,000; and the Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer each receive $68,500. C.R.S. § 24-9-101(1). Additionally, each receives an annualdiscretionary fund “for expenditure in pursuance of official business
as each elected official sees fit.
” C.R.S. § 24-9-105(1) (emphasis added). The Governor receives $20,000each year, and the others each receive $5,000.
 Id.
 2. The undisputed evidence in this case shows that the Secretary utilized:a. $1,278.90 in fiscal year 2011-2012 discretionary funds to travel toSarasota, Florida (airfare, luggage, three nights of lodging, andmeals) to attend and serve as an expert panelist in an election-lawseminar and Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programsponsored by the Republican National Lawyers Association(RNLA) and accredited by the Colorado Supreme Court;
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  b. $422 in Department funds to return early from Florida, at his chief of staff’s request after discussions with Colorado law-enforcementauthorities, following two specific and credible threats of violenceagainst the Secretary, his wife, and their then-four-year-olddaughter, directly related to the Secretary’s official duties; andc. $117.99 in fiscal year 2011-2012 discretionary funds for end-of-year reimbursement, submitting a general memorandum in lieu of receipts, but for which the Secretary has subsequently provided aspecific breakdown of $616 in unreimbursed expenses.
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On May 20, 2013, the Secretary reimbursed the Department of State for thisexpenditure.
 
33. By the Secretary’s spending $1,396.89 in discretionary and $422 inDepartment funds in this manner, CREW argues that the Secretary “may” have violatedthree specific Colorado criminal statutes.4. On April 30, 2013, however, the Commission listed five different civilstatutes and five different fiscal rules, any or all of which “may or may not” serve as thelegal standard(s) in this case. Neither CREW nor the Commission has alleged that theSecretary violated these legal standards, let alone how the Secretary even could haveviolated these legal standards. In other words, there are not even legal allegations madeagainst the Secretary in IEC Case No. 12-07.5. The undisputed evidence in this case including, but not limited to, thetestimony from Colorado State Controller Robert Jaros, the self-described “Über accountant” – shows that the fiscal rules do not even apply to the Secretary’s use of the$1,396.89 in discretionary funds in dispute; the fiscal rules merely provide “guidance.”6. Moreover, the Commission heard no evidence to support any potentialallegation that the Secretary violated any of the five statutes or five fiscal rules cited bythe Commission on April 30, 2013, to the extent that these five statutes and five fiscalrules somehow serve as legal allegations against the Secretary.7. To the contrary, the undisputed evidence affirmatively shows that theSecretary, in fact, appropriately utilized the $1,818.89 in state funds:A. RNLA Election-Law Seminar (Discretionary Funds):(1) The Secretary testified related to the clear benefits to hisoffice for his attendance and participation in the RNLAelection-law seminar, for which the Secretary served as anexpert panelist, from which the Secretary learned a greatdeal about the federal and other states’ election laws and

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