Pueblo County reached out to the state to pay for a Sept. 10 recall election this week. But all County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz got was a law lecture. Monday Ortiz sent a letter to Secretary of State Scott Gessler asking for the state to pay for an election on recalling state Sen. Angela Giron, a Democrat who riled up opponents earlier this year when she supported gun-control legislation. “Because of the last minute nature of the Recall Election, our Office does not have the money in our budget for these unexpected expenditures, nor does Pueblo County as a whole,” Ortiz stated in the one-paragraph letter. “Pueblo County has experienced recent emergency expenditures that have caused an unexpected financial burden to the County adding to our budgetary challenges and making additional funding from Pueblo County unlikely.” Clerk and Recorder Gilbert Ortiz told Secretary of State Scott Gessler that Pueblo County doesn’t have enough money in its budget to fund a Sept. 10 recall election.
Ortiz cited C.R.S. § 1-12-120.5, which states that a “political subdivision” “shall reimburse” the county for the cost of an election. He also asked for the state’s money upfront in an escrow account, with a promise to return any that’s left over or ask for more later if the advance comes up short.
Gessler, a high-profile campaign and election lawyer before he assumed state office in 2010, replied by saying, essentially, Ortiz didn’t understand of the law. “This section obligates political subdivisions, not the state, to reimburse your office. As you no doubt understand the state is not a political subdivision,” he wrote.
Gessler could have rested his case there, but he continued. “Even if that section did apply to the state, it, in no uncertain terms, calls for a reimbursement of costs, not an advance,” he told Ortiz.