Buescher denies using staffer, state seal for re-election campaign

The complaint filed against Secretary of State Bernie Buescher is nothing more than a political shenanigan, the Democrat said Friday.

Not only are the allegations against him false — that he used an office worker to help in his campaign, and improperly used the state seal — but they are the product of Republican operatives out to hurt his re-election effort, Buescher said.

“It’s certainly politically motivated,” he said. “I’d like it to go to an ALJ because they are getting pretty aggressive in assessing attorney’s fees for frivolous actions. I suspect the attorney general will look at it and say, ‘This is silly,’ and refuse to prosecute.”

Normally, complaints against candidates are handled by an administrative law judge assigned to Buescher’s office. But because the complaint is against him, the law requires it to be transferred to Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, to investigate.

The complaint was filed by Denver attorney Robert McGuire on behalf of an unsuccessful one-time Republican candidate for Adams County clerk and recorder, Nickelette Bigham-Gullette.

Currently, McGuire has similar complaints pending before Buescher’s office that have been filed against Democrats on behalf of other GOP groups.

The complaint alleges that Buescher used his executive assistant, Heidi Hamilton, to coordinate at least part of this campaign schedule.

“Specifically, she entered appointments and served as a clearinghouse to ensure that Buescher did not have campaign appointments that conflicted with official secretary of state duties,” McGuire writes in the complaint. “She performed these duties during work hours as an employee of the Department of State and at Buescher’s direction.”

Buescher, however, said Hamilton attended one meeting with his campaign staff, and that was designed to help them coordinate keeping his official duties separate from his campaigning.

“I said to Heidi, ‘I’ll schedule a meeting, and you can meet my campaign people, and you guys figure out how to keep track of these things,’ ” Buescher said. “I don’t let Heidi schedule anything for me that’s campaign related. In fact, we went overboard in keeping things separate.”

The complaint also says the secretary is using the state’s official seal on his campaign website. By law, the seal cannot be used for unofficial purposes, such as campaigning.

But Buescher said the law refers to reprinting the seal on unofficial documents, which he said he is not doing.

He said the complaint is referring to photographs of him on his campaign website, some of which include the seal either in the background or off to the side.

“It’s off-the-charts funny,” Buescher said of that part of the complaint. “There’s a picture of me sitting at my desk, and if you look real closely, you can see my business card. It has the state seal on it.”



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