Colorado has a meltdown in the secretary of state’s office, the agency responsible for ensuring fair elections for everyone on all points of the political spectrum.
The Gazette explained Monday how Secretary of State Jena Griswold misused government time, her authority and state resources to grandstand by declaring a boycott of Alabama. It is based on her objection to Alabama’s new regulations of abortion on demand, which has nothing to do with her job.
The story got worse Wednesday when 9 News Denver reported how Griswold colluded directly with Planned Parenthood — the country’s largest abortion provider — to help announce her boycott.
“About two hours before the news release was sent out, Griswold’s communications director, Serena Woods, emailed the draft news release to Whitney Phillips and Jack Teter,” said 9 News Reporter Marshall Zellinger.
Phillips is vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains; Teter is Planned Parenthood’s political director.
Emails obtained by 9 News show Griswold’s staff asking Planned Parenthood to edit the news release. Phillips explains how the abortion provider’s CEO would contact Griswold by phone for a discussion of the boycott announcement.
An ensuing edit highlights the power of propagandist phraseology. Phillips suggests changing “Right to Choose” to “Reproductive Health Care.” It polls better, she explains.
Another Planned Parenthood edit removes information about the National Association of Election Officials offering training in Denver this year, negating the need for the traditional trip to Alabama — with or without the abortion law. The edit represents another shrewd propaganda maneuver.
“I am not sure it is adding much to the information media need to know,” said a Planned Parenthood editing note.
In truth, it was a key piece of information important to the media’s audience. No one was going to Alabama, but Planned Parenthood did not want us to know. It wanted Griswold’s boycott to seem genuine, as opposed to a needlessly divisive political statement that would exact no economic pain on Alabama.
Incredibly, Griswold accepted the edits. In doing so, she left her audience to think her all-new assortment of employees might just go without training any time soon.
The biggest problem with this involves the dilution of public trust. The secretary of state’s role should be middle of the road. The job involves licensing businesses, validating petitions and overseeing elections. The secretary should never throw herself at the center of society’s most politically divisive issues, given the need for voters to trust elections.
Don’t take this observation from us. Take it from Griswold.
“I believe this should be a nonpartisan-acting position,” Griswold said, as quoted by Westword July 13. “You run on a party, but your goal in that office should be to protect every eligible voter’s voting rights.”
In a pre-election interview, 9 News discussed the non-partisan nature of the job.
“You’re 100 percent right. Uh, I am not a partisan politician,” Griswold said.
We never saw overt partisan behavior by then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams, known widely as the country’s most successful defender of fair and secure elections.
Williams did not speak out on abortion, gun rights, immigration, or anything that took him far afield from licensing businesses, validating petitions and running elections. We cannot fathom Williams asking Colorado Right to Life to edit a news release opposing relaxed abortion laws in New York.
Kyle Clark, 9 News anchor, best summarized the damage of Griswold’s Planned Parenthood collusion.
“Coloradans should have a special kind of faith in our secretary of state — the person who runs our elections. A special kind of faith that whether that secretary of state is a Republican or Democrat that they are above politics. Because you have to trust them to protect the voting system,” said Clark, whom no one considers a right-of-center partisan.
“Jena Griswold had not been in office six months before she broke that faith by giving an outside group’s political director the power to edit an official statement from her office . . . Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s actions have broken faith with Colorado.”
The broken faith means voters and their representatives must demand extraordinary measures of third-party oversight inside Griswold’s office.
Overseers must watch this partisan operative like a hawk, especially when she certifies petitions and election results. She has breached the public’s trust.
The Gazette Editorial Board