After graduating from law school, he took a ten-week, 5,300-mile bike trip around the country in the fall of 1990. That year, he was accepted into the Army Reserves and simultaneously moved to Washington, D.C., to work in the Department of Justice, where he spent a lot of time in the International Law Division.

But in 1993, he returned to Chicago to work full-time at his father's company and also attend business school. But he found construction boring, too. "It just wasn't my passion," Gessler says.

When he graduated from business school, his Army unit was mobilized and Gessler went to Bosnia, where he was deployed for around six months. Soon after his return, he decided to leave Chicago behind and head west. He'd spent time in California before, and the Pacific Northwest didn't seem to have the right vibe, he says. So he ended up in Boulder in 1997, jobless and at first staying with a cousin.

Scott Gessler promoting his voter-registration ad campaign this fall on the mall.
Scott Gessler promoting his voter-registration ad campaign this fall on the mall.

Denver seemed like a manageable city, he says, close to the mountains. And he appreciated the "social climate" of the state. "Colorado's a very open society," he explains. "People in Colorado don't ask what school you went to or what family you belong to. You can really sort of make your way in the state based on hard work and merit."

He eventually joined Hale, Hackstaff, Tymkovich and ErkenBrack as an associate in 2001. The law firm dealt with a range of issues, he says, but he'd always been interested in public service and policy, and knew that election law would be a big part of his practice. By 2004, election law had become his primary focus — and he had a particularly successful year, chairing six cases and winning all of them, he recalls. It was around that time that he started dating his now-wife, Kristi, who'd been a paralegal at the firm but left before they got involved. Gessler eventually went on to form his own firm with attorney James Hackstaff.

But working on election law as an attorney wasn't enough. "That's how you really begin to understand how election law affects people," Gessler says. "You see some of the things that work well and some of the things that drive you crazy.... An attorney pays for all the sins of his client."

Gessler wanted to tackle election challenges head-on instead of remaining tethered to issues specific to clients, so he decided to get into politics. He'd run for Boulder City Council in 2003 but lost — because he was outed as a Republican, he says, adding that he wasn't hiding his party affiliation. But that party affiliation made it impossible for him to consider a run for the Colorado Legislature from either Boulder or Denver, where he soon moved.

Secretary of state seemed like the best match.

Before he started practicing law in Colorado, Gessler admits, he had only vague notions of what the secretary of state actually does. As head of the State Department, the secretary of state is Colorado's chief election officer and thus responsible for working with county clerks across the state and administering all aspects of elections — including qualifying candidates, handling ballot issues, registering voters, overseeing campaign finance and tabulating votes. The office also handles the licensing of businesses in this state.

When he ran for the office in 2010, Gessler says, he wanted to make it easier for people to get measures on the ballot, reform campaign-finance regulation — which seemed headed toward unfair criminalization, he recalls — and proactively prevent voter fraud. He was up against Bernie Buescher, the Democratic incumbent who'd been appointed by then-governor Bill Ritter to the seat when Republican Mike Coffman had won his congressional seat and left the post. Gessler had made a lot of friends and earned supporters through his law practice, he says, and early on, his analysis of the polls made it clear to him that he would win. His only concern was that an American Constitution Party candidate might take votes away from him — running as governor on that ticket, Tom Tancredo was bringing out a lot of voters — but even with that threat, he was confident of victory.

Then on election day, at around 8 p.m., 9News called the race for Buescher. Reporters at the GOP watch party started asking Gessler for his reaction.

"We got on the phone with [9News] and yelled," he remembers. "Obviously, there were some problems with the election system that night."

And in fact, there had been problems. At 6:50 p.m., a handful of counties had been unable to connect to the statewide voter-registration system — so some counties were forced to turn to paper processing and extend voting past the 7 p.m. cutoff. In the meantime, they were not releasing results.

By 11 p.m., after more of the counties had reported their results, Gessler was confident enough to declare victory. 9News had been wrong: He won the race.


So obviously...we've got a big election coming up," Gessler said. It was June, and he was speaking to a meeting of the Broomfield 9.12 Group, a Tea Party organization.

"There's always a lot of uptightness about it, lots of accusations hurled about," he told the crowd. "So let me tell you a little about what we're looking at, at least from my perspective, in the election. I mean, how do you, how do you know if you have a good election?

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A few days ago, I received a notice from the Colorado Secretary of State's office:

Business filing fee holiday extended through February
$1 business filing fees conclude Feb. 28

Denver, Colo. – Today, Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced the fee holiday for all online business filings and notaries public applications will continue through the end of February. Beginning March 1, these filings will revert to their previous rate or lower, while the non-profit fee holiday remains in place.

It seems pretty clear that ALL ONLINE BUSINESS FILINGS has no caveats. Yet when I went to file one such form, a Cure of Delinquency (for having missed filing a form that says "Yes, this is our address) they hit me up for $60. A phone call yielded a bunch of moralizing about how the fee holiday is for people who are law-abiding and pay their fees on time. I hold that "ALL" still means all, and they should keep to their word. They don't want to budge. 

What do you say?

Care to weigh in personally, Scott Gessler?


A few years ago a Colorado Springs County Commissioner (Jim Bensberg-R.) was observed with a stack of Colorado Springs papers-"The Independent." A camera in the County Building provided the coverage of the event. Bensberg said he was going to "distribute" them. "The Independent" covered the story.

This is from The Independent's archive:

"I could see the difference when [Jim Bensberg] walked to the right and then to the left, that he had something in his arms. You can make up your mind what it is -- I'm not going to rat out the commissioner."

-- El Paso County's director of security, Don Johnson, after reviewing a videotape that showed Bensberg appearing to pick up a stack of Independent newspapers that included coverage of his activities in the harassment investigation (described above). This year the Legislature enacted a bill making it illegal to steal free newspapers; however the law had not yet gone into effect.


Typical Liberal tactic.  Any conservative that is a threat to their liberal Utopia must be destroyed.  If not at the ballot box through frivolous criminal and ethical allegations.  I would urge Gessler not to back down and let these tactics work.  Their efforts to intimidate and silence opposition must fail.  Hopefully the legal defense will be allowed as the legal fees from fighting all these frivolous allegations will naturally discourage good people from running for office.  Keep up the good work Gessler!


Is this the Westword or Gesslerword ? Most often, it's nearly impossible to tell . The WW covers Gessler like the Denver Post sports section,  does with Manning .....


And I'm just going to suggest that all the Gessler "bashers" are registered "dimwits" - -we seem to have an over abundance of those misplaced libtards around these parts!  Frankly, it would be refreshing to hear from a few "patriotic Americans", instead of a bunch of obama-soetoro azzwipes!


This article failed to mention one of Gessler's more notorious acts as SOS. The Larimer County Republicans were slapped with a $50,000 fine for campaign finance violations ($90k in donations that were not reported - not an accidental oversight). Gessler did his buddies a solid and reduced the fine by a whopping 68% then, just to show that there were no hard feelings, he went up to Larimer County and did a fundraiser to help them pay the fine. Once this deed was done, Gessler lost any shred of credibility that he might have had as a supposedly non-partisan official. Now he wants us to pay for him to attend Republican events? I would buy the line that he was there in an official capacity if he also attended the DNC and Democratic National Lawyers Association meetings, but I am going to guess that is not the case. Seriously, we can do better than this guy.


This blows my mind.  Bill Clinton committs Perjury.  Ted Kennedy murder.  But it's all good, since they are liberal.  This man trys enforce the law and make sure voters are, heaven forbid, citizens and "Ethics Watch"  trys to prosecute him for flying home to protect his family amid death threats?!  That's absolutely absurd but unfortunately typical of liberals.  It isn't enough to win most of the election, you than have to try to prosecute any other politician that doesn't fall in line with your left wing agenda.  No wonder many good people don't want to run for office anymore.  It really is sad.

patricia.calhoun moderator editortopcommenter

I'd love to publish comments about this story as letters to the editor in our print edition -- ideally with the author's full name. If that's okay, e-mail me at


Weasaller is  nothing more than a republican american taliban domestic terrorist with double standards,  suck KOCH and cater to the rich and fuck the poor!  LET THEM DIE MENTALITY

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Gessler = another corrupt cowardly Repuglykan scumbag


Gessler has selective backbone. When administrative people at a center for developmentally disabled people were found buying Bronco tickets and remolding offices, while the people in the center didn't have heat and the roof leaked. Gessler didn't have the guts to go after them, I guess because the developmentally diabled aren't  a big voting block.


In light of our current federal administration's disgraceful adherence to enforcing existing laws (immigration, for one), it is refreshing to see someone with Mr. Gessler's backbone. I'm proud of his actions in spite of an unrelenting attack via character assassination, innuendo, and generally data-free diatribes. Aggressive enforcement of laws--large or small--is what he's paid for. Ignoring them for one's political convenience (hello, Obama!) encourages anarchy.


The more I hear about this guy, the more I like him. I'm tired of these do-nothing elected officials. How about some bold ideas? I don't know anyone who says ya know, our government works really well. I hope it keeps doing what it's doing. Put someone in there to shake things up and of course, he'll get hammered.

Go, Scotty, Go!