Gessler files papers for possible run against Hickenlooper, reimburses state for RNC trip

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, at the Capitol last year.

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, at the Capitol last year.

DENVER – Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler Thursday officially filed papers to consider a run for governor next year, following up on last week’s statement from his political director initially expressing interest in the race.

This comes two days after he reimbursed the state $1278.90 for using taxpayer dollars to pay for his trip to last year’s Republican National Convention in Florida, according to a press release Thursday from Colorado Ethics Watch.

On the same trip, Gessler also attended a Republican election law training event in Florida.

“After many months of attempting to defend himself from this political attack, it became obvious that the Ethics Commission simply wasn’t going to give the Secretary a fair hearing,” Gessler’s spokesman, Andrew Cole, told FOX31 Denver.

“So he decided to pay the money back in an effort to move on from this episode and get back to work for the people of Colorado.”

Colorado Ethics Watch filed a complaint with the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission in October asking the IEC to investigate and determine whether Gessler misappropriated state funds for personal or political use.

In response to the complaint, the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) investigated the transactions. The Denver District Attorney also announced in November that he would launch a criminal investigation.

“We’re pleased that the Secretary finally did what he should have done months ago – repay the state for funds used to attend a Republican Party event,” said Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “This should send a message to all elected officials that public funds are not for personal or political use.”

Gessler told FOX31 that he filed papers to explore a run for governor but that he won’t officially decide on whether or not to challenge Gov. John Hickenlooper until next week.

Over the weekend, Gessler appeared at the Moffat County Lincoln Day Dinner and told attendees that Gov. John Hickenlooper had become “a rubber stamp” for a Democrat-controlled legislature’s liberal agenda.