Colorado Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler is blaming state Democrats for turning what would have been an “exceptionally good shape” budget for his office into a money pit that needs a $5.1 million taxpayer bailout.
Gessler complained to legislators last week that a Democratic-led election reform bill passed earlier this year with no Republican support, HB-1303, cost his office dearly.
“Had we not had 1303, our budget would be in exceptionally good shape. We’d be just fine,” Gessler is quoted as saying in the Denver Post. “1303 has been a budget-buster. It has completely blown our budget out of the water.”
The bill allows citizens to register to vote as late as Election Day and requires all elections to be conducted by mail ballot. The changes caused a lot of hassle around two high-profile recall elections that were held in September when it was found that some of the bill’s provisions conflicted with the state constitution, leading to emergency rules and costly court battles.
The Post reported that Gessler — who has long complained that he wasn’t consulted on the bill — adopted an “I told you so” attitude at the committee meetings where he discussed his budget shortfall.
But Democrats wondered if there weren’t other reasons his office went into the red, such as Gessler’s fixation on tracking down illegal voters and defending his actions during a drawn out ethics-violation investigation.
“I don’t think one bill is causing a $5.1 million deficit,” said Democratic state Sen. Matt Jones, in an exchange reported by the Post.
“I’m sorry you find that hard to believe,” Gessler responded. “I’m happy to show you the math.”
Gessler is not seeking re-election, but is running for the GOP nomination to challenge Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2014.
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