Ethics Watch: Gessler Amicus for Clear the Bench “Improper”
On Friday, Colorado Ethics Watch filed with the Colorado Court of Appeals its opposition to the attempt by Secretary of State Scott Gessler to file a brief, purportedly as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in his official capacity.
Gessler represented Clear the Bench in its unsuccessful defense of a campaign finance complaint filed by Ethics Watch in 2010. Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer agreed with Ethics Watch that Clear the Bench was required to register with the State of Colorado as a political committee, subject to contribution limits, and rejected Gessler’s argument for Clear the Bench that the group should be considered an issue committee not subject to any contribution limit. Now as Secretary of State, Gessler is using his official position to support his former client’s appeal.
Ethics Watch argues that Gessler’s proposed brief is not a true amicus curiae but rather “an improper attempt to obtain a second chance for a party, Clear The Bench, to argue an issue on which Clear The Bench previously lost.” Ethics Watch also objects to Gessler’s attempt to use “the Attorney General’s office and taxpayer funds to advocate on behalf of his former client, a private entity.”