Buescher denies shirking secretary duties
While she admits there were flaws in her research, the founder of a government watchdog group is making a political issue about how many hours a day Secretary of State Bernie Buescher devotes to his job.
Stephanie Cegielski, who left the Secretary of State’s Office earlier this year to form the Colorado Government Accountability Project, said Thursday that Buescher has been absent from his job about 20 percent of the time.
Buescher, however, said Cegielski’s analysis doesn’t take into account everything his job requires him to do.
The former elections chief in Buescher’s office admits her analysis of his work calendar, which she obtained through a Colorado Open Records Act request, may not be entirely fair.
It’s not unusual for elected state officials who are running for office to campaign during the day and make up the time on nights or weekends.
Cegielski said her analysis of Buescher’s time over the past 20 months showed he spent about 14 weeks on nonbusiness-related travel, and more than 200 hours of nonbusiness-related meetings and events.
She said much of that time was spent traveling to and from his home in Grand Junction, a trip to Asia and a three-week stay in Italy.
But she said her analysis was based on a normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, which the secretary of state’s position is not, said Buescher, a Democrat and former Grand Junction representative.
“The analysis is also flawed in another way,” he said. “All of our reoccurring meetings ... show up in our system for some odd reason as private time. That’s probably some of the most important work I do here in the office.”
Buescher said he serves on or routinely attends numerous government boards and commissions as part of this job, such as the Economic Recovery Accountability Board and the Energy Outreach Colorado board of directors.
Those meetings also appear on his official calendar as private time.
Buescher said he routinely receives calls late at night or on weekends from political candidates who are having problems filing their campaign-finance reports.
“I don’t tell them I’m off the clock when those calls come in,” he said.
Cegielski said she is a registered Republican, but added that has nothing to do with her criticism of Buescher.
She said she plans to check how much time other statewide elected officials spend at work.
“I understand that as an elected official, you are an elected official 24 hours a day,” she said. “My biggest concern was 8 to 5 because that’s when the staff is in the office and when the work gets done. There were dinners in the evenings ... but I don’t know if they were personal dinners or work-related.”