DENVER – Attorneys for Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler will scrutinize the expenses of lawmakers and other state elected officials in their defense of Gessler on an ethics complaint charging he used public money to attend political events.
Gessler’s attorney asked the state’s Independent Ethics Commission on Friday for more time to file a response to the complaint so they can review the records.
“We’re just trying to understand how the expense procedures are working for various state agencies and elected officials. That, we think, is important for us to understand so we can make the proper presentation in response to the complaint,” said attorney Robert Bruce, one of the lawyers representing Gessler.
The ethics panel rejected the request for an extension to Feb. 1 but gave attorneys until Dec. 21 to respond. The response originally was to be due Monday.
Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint alleging that the Republican elections chief misused public funds because he was reimbursed $1,570 to attend the Republican National Convention in Florida and a Republican election law training event. Gessler could be fined up to double that amount if he is found to have violated rules.
Denver prosecutors are also investigating to see if Gessler committed a crime. Gessler has said he welcomes a thorough review.
Gessler’s attorneys cited the ongoing criminal investigation to argue for a postponement in the ethics case, saying they expected the Denver district attorney’s office to make a charging decision before February.
Dan Grossman, chairman of the ethics panel, told Gessler’s lawyers he was reluctant to delay the case because lawmakers have urged them to resolve ethics complaints more quickly.
Since his election in 2010, Gessler has frequently clashed with liberal groups and Democrats about everything from campaign finance to his searches for noncitizens on the voter rolls.
Lawmakers are expected to decide Tuesday whether to move forward with an audit of Gessler’s expenses.