Scott Gessler

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Scott Gessler
Scott Gessler.jpg
Secretary of State of Colorado
In office
January 11, 2011 – January 15, 2015
Governor John Hickenlooper
Preceded by Bernie Buescher
Succeeded by Wayne W. Williams
Personal details
Born (1965-05-28) May 28, 1965 (age 52)[citation needed]
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater Yale University
University of Michigan, Ann

Northwestern University

Scott Gessler is the former Secretary of State of Colorado, having served from 2011 to 2015. He is a former business owner and elections attorney. Gessler is a member of the Republican Party. Gessler is also a veteran of the United States Army.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Scott Gessler was born in Detroit, Michigan, his parents moved many times during his childhood but settled in a small suburb outside of Chicago, Illinois. He attended public schools and graduated from Riverside-Brookfield High School in 1983, where he excelled in extracurriculars.[citation needed] After high school, Gessler attended Yale University, where he obtained his bachelor's degree,[1] he would continue to the University of Michigan Law School where he received his Juris Doctorate.[2] Gessler later received an MBA at Northwestern University,[3] after doing so, he began his career as a federal prosecutor for the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and served as a reservist in the United States Army for sixteen years.[4] After Gessler returned from serving in the Army, he re-located to Denver, Colorado where he began working for a small law practice, where he specialized in election law. In 2002, Gessler fought against gerrymandering in Colorado House and Senate districts.

Personal life[edit]

Scott Gessler is married to his wife Kristi, together they have a daughter and a son. Currently they reside in Denver.[5]

Military career[edit]

As a U.S. Army Reservist; his first assignment was at the 10th Military Law Center in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Gessler continued his military service, joining the 12th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Following the deactivation of 12th Group, Scott joined the 415th Civil Affairs Battalion in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Within months that unit deployed to Bosnia, where Scott served as a Civil Affairs Officer at British Division Headquarters and later as the officer in charge of a Civil Military Cooperation Center. He remained in the Army Reserves, drilling with the 407th Civil Affairs Battalion in Arden Hills, Minnesota. He received an honorable discharge at the rank of Major.[citation needed]


Gessler announced his candidacy for Colorado Secretary of State in late 2009, he did not face any opposition in the Republican party primary elections. In the general election, Gessler challenged Bernie Buescher, a popular Democratic incumbent[6] and Amanda Campbell, who was a member of the Constitution Party. Gessler won the election with over 49% of the vote.[7]

In 2011, Secretary of State Gessler filed an order requiring Denver County not to mail ballots to those who did not vote in 2010 and failed to respond to numerous mailings from the county clerks. Though counties had never mailed to these inactive voters for statewide November elections, both Pueblo and Denver, which are heavily Democratic counties, decided this would be the first time they would mail to inactive voters causing some to accuse Gessler of making the order for political reasons.[8][9][10]

In the lead-up to the 2012 elections, Gessler sent letters to voters who also showed proof of non-citizenship at their recent driver's license application. The letter asked the registered voters to confirm their citizenship. Many non-citizens voluntarily removed themselves from the rolls. Although Gessler never removed or threatened to remove anyone from the voter rolls, many liberal groups complained of his efforts to purge voters. He countered the criticisms of the campaign by saying his office "had spent $1.1m registering Colorado voters, an initiative which netted more Democrats than Republicans, and that the state's electoral roll was cleaner than ever. He compared his campaign to installing fire alarms. 'Even if a building has no history of fires, it's something you do.'"[11]

Ethics investigation[edit]

An investigation and hearing conducted by the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission resulted in a unanimous 5-0 vote finding that Gessler violated the state discretionary fund statute by spending roughly $2000 in government money on travel surrounding a political event, the Republican National Lawyers Association meeting in Sarasota, Florida in August 2012.[12][13] Gessler appealed the findings in court; however, a Denver District Court judge ruled in favor of the Commission and ultimately found Gessler guilty.[14]

Colorado Secretary of State election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Scott Gessler 852,818 49.52
Democratic Bernie Buescher 755,522 43.87
Constitution Amanda Campbell 113,756 6.61
Total votes 1,722,096 100

Governor's race[edit]

In 2013 Gessler announced he would seek the Republican nomination for Governor of Colorado. For much of the campaign Gessler was considered the front-runner being endorsed by Congressman Bob Schaffer, State Senator George Rivera, State Representatives Clarice Navarro, Lois Landgraf, and over fifty County Commissioners, Sheriffs, Mayors and City Councilors. In March 2014, Gessler won the Colorado Republican Caucus Straw poll with 31% of the vote, compared to Bob Beauprez's 22% and Tom Tancredo's 15% of the vote. As the race continued Bob Beauprez poured hundreds of thousands of dollars from his personal fortune into his campaign and emerged the winner of the primary election. Gessler immediately endorsed Bob Beauprez in the general election and embarked on a statewide tour to convince his supporters to vote for Beauprez. Gessler hired RedRock Strategies and Rory McShane to oversee the campaign.


  1. ^ Levin, Sam (10 January 2013). "Scott Gessler is always right...right?". Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Scott Gessler's Bio". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Scott Gessler's Biography". State of Colorado. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Cheek, Tessa (22 May 2014). "Scott Gessler ain’t gonna quit". Colorado Independent. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Roper, Peter, "Gessler: No to mailing ballots to inactive voters", Pueblo Chieftain, September 30, 2011.
  9. ^ "County clerk to comply with Colo. Sec. of State order barring soldiers from voting", Washington Independent, October 03, 2011.
  10. ^ Grenoble, Ryan, "Scott Gessler, Colorado Secretary Of State, Draws Federal Ire Over Questionable Ballot Practices (VIDEO, UPDATE)", The Huffington Post, 09/29/2011 (update 11/29/2011). Video link to Rachel Maddow commentary.
  11. ^ Carroll, Rory, "Colorado Republican accused of following 'Florida playbook' in election",, 5 November 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
  12. ^ Joey Bunch, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler wrong to use state funds for trip, ethics panel rules, The Denver Post, June 7, 2013.
  13. ^ The Denver Post Editorial Board (15 June 2013). "Scott Gessler's Ethics Mess Was Avoidable". The Denver Post. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Bartels, Lynn (12 March 2014). "Scott Gessler Loses Appeal Over Ethics Ruling". The Denver Post. Retrieved 5 June 2014. The IEC decision is affirmed 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Bernie Buescher
Secretary of State of Colorado
Succeeded by
Wayne W. Williams