Monday, October 29, 2012
CONTACT: Joanne Schwartz, Executive Director at 303-991-1900

DENVER: In the final week before the 2012 elections, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, launched a new five-day campaign highlighting the reasons why Republican Rep. Mike Coffman is bad for Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District. The first installment in this campaign questions Coffman’s record as Colorado Secretary of State—of renewed importance given the current Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s repeated attempts at vote suppression and other partisan scandals since taking office.

“Today, Secretary of State Scott Gessler has become a controversial partisan lightning rod, but it was Mike Coffman who blazed the trail for Gessler of partisanship in our elections and ethical problems in his office,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Joanne Schwartz. “Even though he only served in the office for two years, Coffman’s term as Secretary of State was marked by controversy, and pushing the limits as Colorado’s chief elections officer to further a partisan political agenda.”

Coffman was ordered to stop purging voters by a federal judge. This order came after voting rights groups sued Coffman for having canceled the registrations of some 42,000 Colorado voters in violation of the National Voter Registration Act. Coffman continued canceling voters registrations even after the settlement, forcing a judge to order him to stop. [Denver Post, 11/02/08]

Coffman’s Elections Technology Director accused of selling voter data to Republicans.Coffman hired Dan Kopelman, who had worked on Coffman’s political campaigns, as the state’s elections technology director. Coffman was later forced to reassign Kopelman under pressure after it was found that Kopelman was selling voter data (though not from the Secretary of State’s office) to fellow Republicans and partisan organizations as a side business. [Denver Post, 5/10/07]

Using office staff to campaign. In 2008, while Coffman was running for Congress while serving as Secretary of State, Coffman’s chief of staff Jacque Ponder was caught distributing “Coffman for Congress” campaign materials at a Republican event. Coffman later claimed that the employee was not employed in his elections division, but worked in “administration,” making her actions permissible. [Rocky Mountain News, 3/08/08]

“Before Scott Gessler disgraced the office of Colorado Secretary of State with his questionable use of office funds and resources and obvious partisan agenda, Mike Coffman was setting a new low for Gessler to model after,” said Schwartz. “Colorado voters expect our state’s top elections officials to conduct their business in a fair manner, without favoritism or interest in personal gain. Scott Gessler has failed that test, just as Mike Coffman failed before him.”