Gessler Defends Against New Spending Complaints

By CPR's Megan Verlee and Ben Markus

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler is coming under new scrutiny for how he spends public money. The latest criticism involves newly uncovered documents showing he took $1,400 from a discretionary account without providing receipts or explaining how the money was used. Gessler told Colorado Public Radio the money covered miscellaneous expenses.

Scott Gessler: I just didn’t have receipts for everything, and my understanding sort of based on the historical patterns of the Secretary of State was that that was not an uncommon occurrence.

The discretionary fund is meant to pay for things like office supplies and travel, but a review by the Denver Post found Gessler’s immediate predecessor did not get money from his account without documentation.

Democratic State Senator Pat Steadman is asking for a legislative audit of the Secretary of State’s office. Steadman says the request was originally prompted by news that Gessler was reimbursed for travel to a gathering of Republican lawyers in Florida this summer.

Pat Steadman: But I’m also concerned about what sort of internal controls the Department of State has to scrutinize activities to make sure they are suitable for reimbursement as something taxpayers should be paying for.

Lawmakers can take up the audit request no sooner than December.

[Photo: CPR/MVerlee]