At the Longmont City Council meeting on May 3, 2011, Mayor Baum and Council Members, Santos, Sammoury and Witt aligned themselves with Scott Gessler to set the reporting threshold for Longmont ballot issues at $5,000, an amount far too low for a municipality and not mandated by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court ruling in Sampson v Buescher.
The success of representative democracy rests on the faith that elections are honest, fair and transparent. The office of Secretary of State should NEVER be politicized regardless of the political affiliation of the person holding that office. The Secretary of State is closely and directly involved in elections. He monitors campaign reporting and certifies election results.
Scott Gessler is Colorado’s Secretary of State. Mr. Gessler’s specialty is election law. He is in this specialty solely for the purpose of facilitating Republican partisan objectives. One way or another, Gessler uses his specialty to accomplish partisan goals. It is why he sued Longmont along with Western Tradition Partnership and certain Longmont Republicans who provided legal standing for that suit. It is why Scott Gessler ran for the office of Secretary of State. From this position he can do all manner of damage to the election process. And mark my words, if you are following his actions and proposed legislation, he is trying as hard as he can. For those who want to know much more about Gessler, they can find the information by searching at the website Free Range Longmont.com
Today Scott Gessler held a rule-making hearing on the subject of reporting thresholds for ballot issue committees. It is extremely suspect whether he even has the authority to do this. Law is made by legislatures and signed by governors. Secretaries of State are simply and only charged with carrying out law. Certainly they are free to offer opinions. But that is as far as they can go. They are not a legislature of ONE.
Gessler’s close associate Matt Arnold of Clear the Bench spoke at length today during the so-called rule-making hearing. His position was that NO reporting for ballot issues should be required; but if there is reporting ,a $10,000 threshold should be as low as it goes. Gessler offered an inadequate and insufficient disclaimer. Gessler was the attorney for Clear the Bench. The purpose of Clear the Bench was to remove Colorado Supreme Court justices from office because of rulings the Republican Party didn’t like.
Whatever dollar amount is determined for Colorado, let it be clear that the frame of reference under discussion at the hearing is for statewide ballot issues. Municipalities are, with rare exception in Colorado, much smaller. Contributors are usually fewer and amounts contributed smaller. USUALLY. The blatant exception was the Comcast/Communications Association’s $250,000 contribution to prevent Longmont from fully using its fiber optic network.
The Sampson ruling affirmed the need for voters to know who contributes to what, but did not draw a bright line – intentionally. Longmont should establish a line for LOCAL issues. That line should be somewhere between $1000 and $1500.
Revised address to Longmont City Council — May 3, 2011