A Denver grand jury ruled Wednesday that Secretary of State Scott Gessler did not violate the law when he used his office’s discretionary fund to pay about $1,300 to attend the Republican National Lawyers Association meeting in Sarasota in August. However, the panel rebuked Gessler for using state money on the trip, and the secretary’s subsequent trip to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. “The Grand Jury finds there was no criminal conduct related to the use of Discretionary Funds to attend the RNLA conference, in light of the Secretary of State speaking on a panel, the election law training at the conference, and the accreditation by Colorado Supreme Court for the CLE,” the report stated. “However, the Grand Jury believes that the Secretary of State’s decision regarding the use of the Discretionary Fund in order to attend a partisan and political conference like the RNLA was not prudent, especially when it was followed by a trip to the Republican National Convention.”
The decision comes less than a week after the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission rules that Gessler violated the public trust by spending office money to attend the lawyers convention.
The ethics commission said Gessler’s trip benefitted him, as a lawyer who needs continuing legal education, or CLE, credits to keep his law license valid, and the Republican Party. He was ordered to repay about $2,800, twice the amount in question.
Gessler repaid the money last month, before his appearance in a day-long ethics commission hearing on June 7.