(Oct. 10) – Saying they are fed up with a series of episodes in which Secretary of State Scott Gessler has overstepped the bounds of his authority, Reps. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) and Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) announced today that they would offer a bill in the next legislative session to limit the rulemaking power of the office of the Colorado secretary of state.
At a press conference this morning, Rep. Levy said the draft legislation will specify that “if the Secretary of State establishes, modifies or repeals any procedure that applies to elections, he or she must follow the public hearing and comment procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act,” which provides for legislative and judicial review of rules to be sure an official has the authority to enact them.

Rep. Duran recited a laundry list of blatantly partisan actions by Secretary Gessler, including his intervention on behalf of Republicans convicted of campaign law violations, his endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and his actions on behalf of a national GOP campaign to suppress Democratic or unaffiliated voters.

“If Secretary Gessler wants to find partisan abuse of the election process in Colorado, he should start by looking at some of his own actions,” Rep. Duran said. “This legislation is necessary to preserve the integrity of the office of the Colorado Secretary of State.”

Rep. Levy said the last straw came in late September when Secretary Gessler sent a memo on poll watchers to the state’s 64 county clerks. He labeled the unsolicited memo an “informal guidance” as a way to skirt the formal rulemaking process. The proposed bill would close that loophole.

“It’s less than a month till Election Day,” Rep. Levy said. “If Secretary Gessler is going to try to change the rules this late in the game, he should do it through the public rulemaking process, not behind closed doors, not without input from the public or from other officials who are impacted by the proposed policies.”

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