When Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced the creation of a new “Campaign Enforcement Division” in her office, she pledged she would not be involved in any decisions around campaign finance complaints.
Instead, she promised, nonpartisan staff and her Deputy would have control over campaign finance enforcement decisions.
However, new documents obtained by the Colorado Sun suggest Griswold may be actively undermining the nonpartisan staff in the enforcement division to target her perceived political opponents.
At issue is a complaint that was filed against the conservative nonprofit Unite for Colorado, which nonpartisan attorneys in the Campaign Finance Enforcement division recommended be dismissed.
However, after the nonpartisan staff made their recommendation, something peculiar happened.
The Sun reported Griswold emailed her former Deputy Ian Rayder on January 5th to schedule a meeting to personally discuss the complaint against Unite.
Barely a week later, according to the Sun, Rayder denied a motion to dismiss the complaint:
“Please work to get time in my schedule for my review,” Griswold wrote to Ian Rayder, the former deputy secretary of state, in a Jan. 5 email. “Ian, please review first.”
The subject of the review was a campaign finance complaint against nonprofit Unite for Colorado that claimed the conservative group should have registered as an issue committee because it spent $1.7 million to help gather signatures for two 2020 ballot initiatives.
Lawyers in the Campaign Finance Enforcement unit, which is housed in Griswold’s office, recommended that the complaint be dismissed because Unite for Colorado also spent heavily on other political activities separate from the ballot initiatives on taxes and fees. But on Jan. 11, Rayder denied the motion to dismiss the complaint. The matter is now before an administrative law judge. [emphasis added]
Griswold also involved herself in another complaint against Colorado Stop the Wolf Coalition, which she also emailed Rayder to set up a meeting to discuss.
Curiously, according to the Sun, the day before her office’s ruling Rayder emailed Griswold a “link to the coalition’s steering committee, which is led by Denny Behrens, who also was the registered agent for Stop the Wolf PAC.”
Griswold’s office rejected an administrative law judge’s recommended $1000 fine for the group and instead levied a $22,000 fine against the nonprofit, effectively bankrupting the organization.
To say these episodes demonstrate an incredibly disturbing pattern of behavior for the Secretary of State’s office is an understatement.
Adding to the intrigue is Rayder, a key figure in these disclosed emails, left Griswold’s office shortly after the time period in question.
Rayder’s departure has been something of a pattern for Griswold whose office has experienced record turnover since she was elected.
Griswold’s former Legislative Liaison Reese Edwards ripped Griswold’s competency in a LinkedIn post that was deleted after Peak published it in January.
Given the overwhelmingly positive nature of LinkedIn I will keep to the platform’s general ethos by only pointing out that this office has over 200% turnover within its executive team in less than two years under current leadership. There are other opportunities that are better suited for talented individuals looking to make an impact in Colorado.
An appointee of California Gov. Gavin Newsom Maral Farsi also deleted her reply to Edwards, in which she praised him for staying positive about his experience.
The bottom line is Griswold’s incompetent and partisan behavior is destroying the reputation of the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.
How much longer will it be before the rest of the Colorado press takes notice?