Tag Archive for Scott Gessler

Current economy: unsustainable, unreasonable, unfair

Mind those teeth...

Mind those teeth…

To paraphrase: It is hard to drain the swamp when you are up to your waist in alligators. Much of what we try to address will not in the end be successful unless we deal with root causes. We need to beat off the alligators but this will never end unless we drain the swamp.

Income and wealth disparities have been growing at an alarming rate. Many, including some in Congress, speak out against food stamps and other assistance for the poor (Cory Gardner just voted to discontinue funding food stamps). If workers were paid a living wage, wages were not routinely stolen from workers and corporations would not trim costs by cutting workers, expecting remaining salaried workers to make up the slack, while paying hugely inappropriate salaries and bonuses to top management and board members, there would be less need for assistance.

Eventually, the huge and increasing disparity in earnings and wealth will come back to bite the corporations. Low pay results in less purchasing power for many millions. This reduces sales tax collection, also hurting local governments. Low pay leads to poverty and homelessness. It leads to discouraged portions of the populations. Unemployment among the young leads to crime.

The same people who voted down food stamps and other food assistance while funding large agriculture support tax breaks to big oil at a time when big oil is making incredible profits, while denying small incremental financial support for renewable energy, also brought us Citizens United. The same party continues, in the face of Supreme Court rulings to the contrary, with attempts to make it less likely that minorities, the elderly and some rural citizens will be able to vote (Scott Gessler continues to mislead us on the number of non-citizens voting while proposing to make it more difficult for thousands of citizens to vote.)

The Republican Party should be just as worried as the Democrat Party about Citizens United. Recently the Chinese government offered to buy a large U.S. food processing company. The press talks about worries that the Chinese will reduce food safety. The real concern is that as an owner of a U.S. corporation, the Chinese government will be able to support candidates of their choosing and influence elections and thus laws without having to disclose their hand in this misguided gift from the Bush court.

Historically the robber barons, mining companies, large manufactures, etc., mistreated employees and developed monopolies. Thanks to unions and an informed public, the worst of these abuses were stopped. Unfortunately, income and wage disparity has become a huge crisis. The very wealthy control too much of the wealth and thus power. Greed runs rampant. Every effort seems to be made to receive bigger and bigger portions of the pie at the expense of the many, first the poor and now the middle class. Even athletes and other entertainers fight for obscene salaries while educators, law enforcement and medical professions fall back in real buying power.

Gone are the days when a single salary could provide a comfortable lifestyle. It is not a bad thing that talented people can make more than an average earning, but when taken to an extreme this is not in the interest of collective society. Very high salaries come at the expense of poorly paid workers, workers who need two jobs even with a working spouse to make ends meet.

Too much money from relatively few sources influences elections in a way that defeats the concept of one person one vote. Politicians are frequently unduly influenced by large contributors and special interests group such as big oil, pharmaceuticals and the NRA. These groups spend huge amounts on lobbyists. We have legislators in Washington, D.C., who fight for weapons that the military says its doesn’t need and doesn’t want. We allow pharmaceutical companies to practice “Pay for Delay,” whereby they pay other companies to not produce and sell generics at a lower price. We pay, insurance companies pay and Medicare pays more. This also goes against the basic tenants of patent law.

This is not about a liberal agenda. This is about a better America. It is about living up to our values. It is about long-term sustainability of our economic system. Look around at the unrest in other countries. While there are several reasons for unrest, a good deal of the energy comes from disparity in wealth that leaves many with bare subsistence and little hope for anything better for them or their children.

James O’Keefe Not Helping Scott Gessler

by Colorado Pols
Wed May 16, 2012 at 15:16:39 PM MDT

Yesterday, right-wing news site Breitbart.com released a new video from conservative “gotcha” artist James O’Keefe, purportedly showing how easy it is for “non-citizens” to vote:

In the video, William Romero, an apparent non-citizen, is shown to be registered to vote in North Carolina. According to jury refusal records obtained by Project Veritas, Romero was recused for being a non-citizen. Yet when a researcher from Project Veritas went into the polling station, he found that not only was Romero still on the voting rolls but  the poll workers were also more than willing to give him Romero’s ballot.The video finds that another alleged non-citizen in Durham County, North Carolina, was on the voter rolls–and apparently voted in 2008 and 2010–even though he had been categorized as “code 7” in jury recusal forms, which means he had been excused as a non-citizen.

In another crucial swing state, Florida, elections officials fear as many as 180,000 non-citizens may be registered to vote. In Colorado, during the 2010 midterm elections, 5,000 non-citizens may have voted…

As you know, we (and others) have repeatedly debunked this persistent claim that “5,000 noncitizens may have voted” in the 2010 elections in Colorado. The claim originates with Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who used this figure in congressional testimony, but it doesn’t stand up to even casual scrutiny. As we noted and local media outlets realized last year, over thirty thousand Colorado residents became citizens during the period Gessler “analyzed,” enough to easily account for the 5,000 “noncitizens” who “may” have voted in 2010.

As liberal blog Think Progress reports, O’Keefe appears to have made exactly the same error.

Read the rest at ColoradoPols.com


Gessler's critics closing in

Truth is closing in on Gessler's lack of proof.

Gessler’s been at this scam for some time – at least since early 2010 – and he’s got a lot of Old Guard money in his pocket so this, to me, sure looks like what they want.

Baum – unfit to serve

This is about civility, decency and the democratic process. As a member of the now-defunct Longmont Election Committee, I have encountered a consistent political agenda from certain members of City Council, and especially from the mayor, Bryan Baum. The Election Committee was empaneled under the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act of 1998, to provide transparency and to limit the unfair influence of big money, outside money and secret money in our home-rule city.

The Election Committee came under immediate and relentless attack, including a suit in District Court against the city, which the new majority on council forfeited, granting $68,500 to the plaintiffs, who were represented by Scott Gessler, now Colorado Secretary of State. Gessler has now refused to mail ballots to registered voters who did not vote, for whatever reason, in the 2010 election.

Last year when a solar tech company owner spoke at council, supporting a local solar initiative that would draw him to move his company to Longmont, the mayor sharply put him down and told him that our city did not need what he had to offer.

This summer, when the city employees’ health care plan came before council after a year of study of competitive bids, Mayor Baum berated Human Resources director Bobby King, city manager Gordon Pedrow and council member Katie Witt for approving of the choice of city employees to go with the Kaiser plan, thus saving the city more than $600,000. He told Mr. Pedrow, “Didn’t I discuss my alternative with you in my office last spring?” Mr. Pedrow replied that his job is to take instruction from a majority of City Council in public session, not the private preference of one member.

These actions represent a pattern and attitude that is detrimental to civil discourse.

Scott Gessler agrees with Kaye Fissinger

Scott GesslerScott Gessler agrees with Kaye Fissinger.  Bet that got your attention.  He didn’t do it on purpose, of course.  It simply served his partisan objective, at least this time.

What in the world could I be talking about, you ask.

As might be recalled, not long ago I pressed the point that non-partisan elections simply mean that political parties and their registered voters do not determine candidates in a primary for a general election against candidates from competing political parties. I stressed that it does not mean that candidates have no political affiliation or that they don’t bring ideological affinities to a non-partisan office.

Some sought to take issue what that description, insisting that they and their favored candidates were pure as the driven snow.  (And we know how long snow remains pure after it has been driven.)  And that they (in our case, city council/mayor candidates) are blank political slates on which each issue begins to write anew.

Along comes Scott Gessler, Colorado Secretary of State, to say, “Uh, no.  That’s not the way it works.”

Douglas County has a hot school board race.  Hot because it is sharply divided between pro-voucher candidates and anti-voucher candidates.  It’s a fight to see who will control the school board going forward.  Douglas County School District is being sued by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union over its voucher plan that would provide substantial school tuition assistance for students to attend religious schools and/or to attend schools outside the normal district boundaries.  The Douglas Country voucher program is currently under court injunction preventing the program from going forward.

School board challenger Susan Meek filed a complaint with Gessler’s office claiming her opponent Craig Richardson along with Justin Green Williams and Kevin Larsen, are running as a Republican Party slate.  She contends that this is a legal violation because the races are non-partisan.  Meek used as evidence fliers that proclaim her opponents as the Douglas County Republican Party’s choices for the school board.

After scratching their collective head for awhile, Gessler’s office found that the statute calling for nonpartisan school board elections applies to how candidates file for office, not how the campaign for it.  A candidate cannot file for the school board as a Republican or Democrat, but he or she can run as one.

Scott Gessler is a Republican who ran for the office of Secretary of State in a partisan election.  The three pro-voucher candidates are incumbents who have the largest campaign war chests funded by longtime school-reform and Republican activists.  Meek and three challengers oppose vouchers.  The pro-voucher candidates are predictably using smoke and mirrors to camouflage their pro-voucher stands, preferring instead to use the standard Republican whipping boy – unions.  (Big bad bogeymen.  Can’t have that.)

So the upshot of this is that Fissinger (that’s me) was right and the Republican Golden Boy Scott Gessler says so.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Longmont’s ALEC impersonators

The following address was presented to the Longmont City Council at its July 26, 2011 meeting.

ALEC

Big money crushing the little people

ALEC. No, not Alex with an X; ALEC with a C

It’s a acronym. It stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council – a secretive front group of hundreds of corporations that are investing millions of dollars a year to write business-friendly legislation at the expense of the middle class, the working class and those in poverty.

ALEC develops and distributes model bills to state elected officials, with the intent those bills be passed in as many state legislatures as possible. ALEC has drafted more than 800 model bills for state legislators, including efforts to privatize everything from schools to prisons, to weaken workers’ rights, and to make it more difficult for citizens to vote,

ALEC develops model bills in task forces where only private business interests and legislators participate. Sound familiar?

ALEC is lobbying in state capitals across the country, all while claiming to the Internal Revenue Service that they are a charitable organization. By claiming to be a charity and calling participating legislators “members,” ALEC attempts to evade disclosure of its lobbying, allows corporate members to deduct their payments as charitable contributions rather than non-deductible lobbying expenses, and does an end-run around state ethics laws.

Longmont, a local home rule municipality, doesn’t have this level of sophistication. Nonetheless, the corporate business interests in this community and in surrounding communities are engaging in very similar practices. They only need to place a phone call to a like-mined council member, schmooze at the Chamber or the Rotary, and contact sympathetic staff members. And the results are fundamental ordinance changes that remove policies that benefit the environment and the community in general and replace them with ordinances that benefit a corrupt ideology and the bank accounts of developers, realtors and all of the businesses aligned accordingly.

The Longmont City Council has:

  • Eliminated Inclusionary Zoning and, as a consequence, has damaged irreparably the city’s Affordable Housing Program and the interest of not only future participants but those of current participants.
  • Eliminated storm water provisions knowing full well, and taking pride in the fact, that the State of Colorado lacks the resources to assure compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency requirements. In some cases, these permits have been reduced from $2000 to $50. Staff and certain council members are at risk of breaking their arms as they pat themselves on the back over this one.
  • And then there are the lawsuit settlements that have transferred nearly $200,000 of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of their ideological allies – Scott Gessler, LifeBridge Church, and Dean Lehman’s Times- Call.

There are other ethical affronts, but three minutes is insufficient to name them all. It’s a crying shame that Longmont has stooped so low and joined in principle with the likes of ALEC.

Council majority acts to hide campaign contributions

Scott Gessler

 

The Longmont City Council majority of Mayor Bryan Baum and Council Members Gabe Santos, Katie Witt, and Alex Sammoury adopted an amendment to the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act that shields the first $5,000 in contributions to issue committees from disclosure to the public. These members of Longmont’s governing body accepted the rule adopted by Scott Gessler, Colorado Secretary of State, despite the fact that Gessler has been sued for exceeding his authority in rule-making and violating the Colorado Constitution.

Council Members Sean McCoy, Brian Hansen and Sarah Levison refused to support the amendment.

Baum, Santos, Witt and Sammoury leave no doubt about their collusion with Gessler, a collusion that began when Gessler and local Republican operatives sued the City of Longmont over Longmont’s Fair Campaign Practices Act. That suit resulted in the elimination of 19 words that had existed since 2001. The suit was brought as part of a strategic plan to remove Karen Benker from office and to insert radicalism into the governing of the City of Longmont.

To settle that suit, the council majority that was elected in 2009 paid $68,000 to Gessler. This decision, described as a “settlement,” had the consequence of enriching Gessler ahead of his run for political office.

Gessler sought the office of Secretary of State in order to manipulate elections in Colorado and he began his quest in Longmont. He has, since taking office, attempted to join the cabal of states governed solely by Republicans who are in the process of enacting legislation that suppresses voter turnout and disenfranchises those voters who are most likely to vote for Democrats.

The following is the speech I gave to the council during the Public Hearing on Second Reading of that ordinance.

On May 3rd I addressed this council on the subject of Longmont’s Fair Campaign Practices Act amendment regarding issue reporting and Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s rule-making on the subject.

I stated, “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.”

On May 13th Gessler’s decision to set the threshold for issue committee reporting at $5,000 and to shield the first $5,000 of contributions and expenditures from disclosure became official.

The rule raises the threshold from $200, as defined in the Colorado Constitution. The Court of Appeals has already held that the Secretary of State has no authority to promulgate rules that add, modify or conflict with constitutional provisions.

On June 9th Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Ethics Watch filed suit against Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

The suit asserts that “The Secretary has exceeded his authority to administer and enforce campaign finance laws by dramatically increasing the constitutional threshold for regulation of issue committees. Purportedly in response to a decision of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on an as-applied challenge to campaign finance disclosure provisions of article XXVIII [28]of the Colorado Constitution, the Secretary adopted a rule that nullifies provisions of the Colorado Constitution and duly enacted statutes and replaces them with weaker disclosure rules enacted by the Secretary.”

Colorado statutes provide that “Any agency action that is arbitrary or capricious, contrary to a constitutional right, in excess of statutory authority, an abuse of discretion, unsupported by the record or otherwise contrary to law shall be held unlawful and set aside.” The plaintiffs ask the Court to set aside the Secretary’s unlawful action.

Luis Toro, Executive Director of Colorado Ethics Watch said, “The Secretary is under the mistaken impression that he has authority to rewrite campaign finance laws, not merely make rules to enforce those laws. Disclosure thresholds are clearly not within the authority of the Secretary of State to change.”

Jenny Flanagan, Executive Director of Colorado Common Cause concluded that “If allowed to be enforced, this rule would make it even easier for issue committees to get a measure on the ballot while never disclosing who is behind this measure and how they are spending money to influence voters.”

This city council is prepared to adopt the very provisions that are now being challenged in court. It would be prudent of this council to abandon this amendment until the matter is resolved in the courts.

Gessler exceeds his authority

From Ethics Watch:

Jun 10, 2011

Common Cause and Ethics Watch File Complaint Against Secretary of State Gessler

Scott Gessler, Republican candidate for Colorado Secretary of State

Scott Gessler (R) Colorado Secretary of State - shows questionable ethics - again.

Late yesterday, Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint in Denver District Court against Secretary of State Scott Gessler that claims Gessler unlawfully weakened Colorado campaign finance laws through the Secretary of State’s rulemaking process. The Secretary of State does not have authority to change state law, and therefore Common Cause and Ethics Watch have asked the court to invalidate the Secretary of State’s rule.

 

After receiving comments in opposition to the new Campaign and Political Finance Rule 4.27, which “increases the contribution and expenditure threshold that triggers the requirement for an issue committee to register and file disclosure reports,” Secretary Gessler issued a notice of adoption of the rule on May 13.  The rule raises the threshold from $200, as defined in the Colorado Constitution, to $5000.  In addition, the rule eliminates the requirement to disclose any information about the first $5,000 of contributions and expenditures by an issue committee. The Court of Appeals has already held that the Secretary of State has no authority to promulgate rules that add, modify or conflict with constitutional provisions.

Read the rest at Ethics Watch including the complaint.


If it’s not agonizingly obvious to people by now that our SOS is a GOP SOB and intends to leave our elections AFU and the Dems SOL then you’re not paying attention.

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 – which is ridiculous.

The GOP in Colorado intends to win all of the next several elections, regardless of the cost – and why not, they have the Western Traditions Partners standing by to shovel money into any campaign they designate. They’ll be cranking out nasty mailers, godawful radio spots and very likely television ads all with the intent of taking every single elected seat they can – and then the real fun will start.

The recent vote on Longmont’s Affordable Housing program was an obvious shot-across-the-bow and is no doubt the first of many such attacks on programs to support the least of us. The far right extremists in Longmont have made their unchristian disdain for the people at the bottom of the economic scale very clear. With Gessler’s help they’ll make certain that their revenge goes as deep and as wide as possible.

Republicans seek to conceal campaign donors

Scott GesslerAt 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

Tell Scott Gessler: Serve Colorado or resign!

Scott Gessler

Scott Gessler - does he need a new day job?

Before his election last November as Secretary of State, Scott Gessler was a partner in one of Colorado’s most politically connected law firms. He represented some of the state’s most controversial right wing political groups and candidates. Some of Gessler’s clients have been disgraced by campaign finance disclosure complaints, allegations of unlawful false statements against their opponents, and other alleged election law violations.

Despite Gessler’s record, he promised on the campaign trail last year that he would set aside his past associations, and serve the state of Colorado without the conflicts of interest that would seem obvious given his history. But today, The Denver Post reports that Gessler wants to remain employed part time by his old law firm while he serves as Secretary of State.

Colorado’s Secretary of State, the state’s chief elections official, moonlighting at a law firm that specializes in elections? This is completely unacceptable. Sign our petition now, demanding that Gessler immediately abandon this absurd plan. And if he can’t, Gessler should immediately resign his position as Secretary of State.

Take action here.

Longmont power brokers launch perpetual electioneering

Same hammer, different beat(down)

Longmont has, for decades, been governed in the interest of a few select individuals and companies. This long-standing oligarchy remained successfully unchallenged and comfortable until the fall of 2007.

The first hint of trouble for these power brokers occurred when the citizens of Longmont rose up against the annexation of the LifeBridge 350-acre project south of Union Reservoir. A petition for a referendum to reverse a Longmont City Council ordinance had never before been successful, so it was not initially taken seriously. But the signature-gathering effort produced almost one-third more signatures than were required to place the matter before the voters in a special election.

On the heels of this success, the citizens of Longmont elected a council majority with a view to a different future.

When the new majority took legislative and legal action to block Firelight Park and the LifeBridge project from annexation into Firestone, all-out war was declared on what they referred to as the Benker Bloc (after former City Council member Karen Benker) or the Bloc of Four. These properties and developments were owned by members of city power brokers, chiefly developers and real estate special interests, many of whom are also members of LifeBridge Christian Church.

From that point forward there was a fierce determination to reclaim Longmont for the interests of the few, rather than the many. The rhetoric talked about “taking back Longmont.” The current mayor’s wife Stephanie Baum even had a blog with that name.

The first front in this war was the Longmont Times-Call. The conservative politics of the Times-Call has never been a secret. (See “Is there a bias? You tell me.”)

Out of hours of council discussion on a variety of topics, the Times-Call published a constant drumbeat of strategically chosen topics prominently placed above the fold with headlines chosen for their negative implications. Quotes within articles continued its derogatory objectives, and slanted coverage was given to positions that the paper opposed.

Letters to the editor were selectively placed to enhance the political position of the Times-Call and of those in the community and on council that it supported. Opinions of the community were further manipulated by the timing of OpEds solicited and printed.

The Times-Call hammered mercilessly on the “Benker” council.

After the November 2008 Democratic mandate at the national level, conservatives recognized that they could be headed for a permanent minority. At the local level, the heavy artillery appeared from both within and outside Colorado targeting the swing community of Longmont.

Operatives and their money came from D.C./Virginia, Montana, and from the Tom DeLay organization, Coalition for a Conservative Majority, who made no secret of its focus and targeting.

Scott Gessler, Republican candidate for Secretary of State, manufactured a lawsuit against the city and its Fair Campaign Practices Act. The LFCPA established sensible contribution limits and provided for greater transparency and disclosure. Only 19 words were struck from the Act because of the court’s temporary restraining order.

The Times-Call created a political improvised explosive device of its own with its court challenge of council executive sessions for legal advice on the annexation lawsuits—knowing full well that council actions were legitimate.

These strategies and tactics were very effective in agitating the public.

Rabidly anti-environmental and property rights absolutist organizations like Western Tradition Partnership (WTP) and Coloradans for Economic Growth bankrolled the attack campaigns during the 2009 election season. The winning candidates claim they had neither connection with, nor knowledge of, the activities of the WTP front organization Longmont Leadership Committee. If you believe that, then I have some beachfront property along the Gulf coast you might like to see.

Upon election, the new majority needed no other votes than their own to force settlements of these lawsuits, effectively using taxpayer dollars to reimburse campaign activities that placed them in office. The $182,000 dispersed to their endorsers to “settle” the lawsuits give a whole new meaning to publicly-funded campaigns. ($100,000 to LifeBridge/Firestone, $68,500 to the Longmont Realtors Association and Western Tradition Partnership plaintiffs and concealed donors, and $13,500 to the Times-Call.)

The incredible irony is that Mayor Baum and his troops have claimed and continue to claim that citizens’ free speech rights have been violated by the LFCPA. Given the content of the mailers that Longmont voters received from Longmont Leadership, that would be humorous if it weren’t so deplorable. The new majority has voted to dismantle the portions of the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act that provide for the most transparency, accountability and enforcement that is free from political influence.

The new council and those it represents want opposing speech squelched. They floated a balloon that popped when they sought to limit and rearrange the timing of the Public Invited to be Heard section of council meetings.

However, the best way to silence opposing voices is to remove them altogether from the council where their views receive a weekly airing. And that’s exactly the objective. The remaining three council members have been targeted for extinction. Sarah Levison received the opening shot across the election bow by blogger Wrongmont Rodriguez in the Times-Call on May 22nd.

The objectives, the strategies, the tactics are now exposed. This cat is out of the bag! The community will no longer stand for a repeat of the politically deplorable behavior from the take-back-Longmont crowd that has occurred since the 2007 election. Elections do, indeed, have consequences.

Open, transparent, fair and just Elections?

Open, transparent, fair and just Elections?(Note:  After the paragraph wherein Mayor Baum was quoted in the Times-Call and the topic turned to Western Tradition Partnership, Council Member Witt sought to interfere with the speaker’s address.   The Speaker responded, “I am exercising my freedom of speech, Council Member Witt.”  She then proceeded with her prepared remarks.)

Address to Mayor Baum and Longmont City Council:  May 4, 2010

On your agenda this evening is one of the most important pieces of legislation that City of Longmont can consider.  You are to decide whether Longmont will have open, transparent, fair and just elections or whether the interests of those who would control our local government will be able to exercise their privileged positions and do so even more under the radar of full disclosure.

Today’s article in the Times-Call left me incredulous. That justification to abandon Longmont’s efforts to provide transparency to our local representative democracy defies moral foundation, is unprincipled and plays into the hands of those who believe they have a birthright to control government to their own personal, corporate and ideological gain.

Mayor Baum, you are quoted as saying that, “We are a target (to sue); we have been identified as such.  We’re labeled now, and we have to be really careful because we’re on everybody’s radar screen.”

And who is this “everybody” to which you refer?

The lawsuit brought against the city last year by Western Tradition Partnership was an unscrupulous and cynical strategic attempt to gain control of the Longmont City Council by radically conservative forces both out-of-state, within the state and indeed by local powerful political interests and their toadies.

Organized as a 501c4, Western Tradition Partnership can simply create an entity and have the sources of their funding unknown to anyone without a federal case and court order.  Its money can come from out of the country, around the nation, and locally by cowards who want to keep their public image as untarnished as possible.

Republican Scott Gessler was the attorney for this lawsuit debacle.  He drools at the possibility of using his attacks on Longmont as a platform for election to Colorado Secretary of State, a position that would allow him to influence our state elections in the manner of Katherine Harris in Florida in 2000 and Ken Blackwell in Ohio in 2004.

Previous mayors of Longmont, Republicans Julia Pirnack and Bob Askey, joined this suit as well as the Longmont Area Realtors Association, and  unsavory blogger Republican Chris Rodriguez.

Four city council members benefited by the support of Western Tradition Partnership who funded Longmont Leadership who viciously attacked your opponents; the Realtors Association who endorsed the current council majority; and the aforementioned individuals who either endorsed or executed the dirty work.

The settlement you authorized used city taxpayer funds to reimburse the very organizations and people who provided most of the impetus for your election to office.

The people of Longmont must be made aware of the decadent undercurrent operating behind the scenes of Longmont and Colorado politics.  With the foregoing, now they are.

Scott Gessler: By the company he keeps

Scott Gessler, Republican candidate for Colorado Secretary of State

Scott Gessler, Republican candidate for Colorado Secretary of State

Scott Gessler, the Republican Party’s ever-so-slick choice to run for Secretary of State this November has a dossier that only an authoritarian father-party could love.

While moaning and groaning, ranting and raving, over the influence of soft (527) money, he is up to his neck inside these organizations.

The 527 designation applies to political organizations that have tax-exempt status under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Service code.  They are organized and operated “primarily for the purpose of directly or indirectly accepting contributions or making expenditures” with the intent of influencing the “selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any individual to Federal, State, or local public office or office in a political organization, or the election of Presidential electors.”

Gessler’s group, Coloradans for Change is a 527 that took at least one massive donation of $125,000 from the Senate Majority Fund and another donation of $100,872 from the Colorado Leadership Fund.  Both groups were defendants in a lawsuit by Colorado Ethics Watch for sponsoring unethical campaign ads and skirting campaign finance laws.

Money, however, appears to flow both ways with some of these 527s.  On two occasions funds flowed from Coloradans for Change to the Colorado Leadership Fund, in one instance for $46,125.  Might this be a case of “political money laundering” or are we merely talking about political incest?  And where Scott Gessler is concerned, there’s certainly a lot of the latter going on.

Gessler is also the man behind the curtain for Colorado Conservative Voters, a 527 whose purpose is “to education Colorado citizens about issues, officeholders, and political candidates that further conservative values.”

And if all this 527 hypocrisy isn’t enough, he’s rubbing questionable elbows with a guy named Scott Shires, also connected to Coloradans for Change and the Senate Majority Fund.

Shires, along with Scott Gessler, is also listed as Western Tradition Partnership’s registered agent.  Western Tradition Partnership is registered with the IRS as a nonprofit 501c4. According to Luis Toro, general counsel for Colorado Ethics Watch, these nonprofit groups have come to replace 527 organizations as the favored shell for political contributions.  They became popular after 527s faced greater disclosure requirements at the state and national level.

Gessler joined this shell game with Western Skies Coalition and Coloradans for Economic Growth, both of which have had complaints filed with the IRS presenting evidence that these organizations might have spent more of their total resources on actions that influence elections in Colorado rather than on social welfare activities, in violation of their federal tax-exempt status.

Shires, the Republican operative and front man for many 527s, has a history of violating campaign reporting regulations.  Shires has also been indicted on an alleged money laundering scheme to hide an illegal gambling operation.

Scott Shires is behind yet another 527, the Colorado League of Taxpayers who attacked Longmont council candidate Richard Juday in a January 2008 mailer.  A similar event occurred in Garfield County.  Colorado Ethics Watch sued Shires for campaign violations in that case and he was fined in excess of $7,000.

So these two “Scotts” are joined at the political hips.  Both Republican operatives.  Both of whom appear to have never met an election law for which they didn’t have contempt.

Flying further under the radar are Gessler’s other political bedfellows.  He’s allied with Coalition for a Conservative Majority (founded by Tom DeLay, who has been indicted on felony conspiracy and money-laundering charges) and he is a frequent “guest” at rightwing reactionary groups, such as the Tea Party.

Scott Gessler has the political gall to think we should make him Colorado’s next Secretary of State, the position that guarantees the security and legitimacy of our elections.   No way, Mr. Gessler.  You aren’t qualified.  It’s a matter of trust.  It’s a matter of common sense.  It’s a matter of integrity.