Secretary Williams teams up with FBI, CU Denver for cybersecurity event

FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell addressed elected officials, candidates and others today before the start of a cybersecurity training exercise. (FBI photo)

Another day, another exercise on cybersecurity for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, this time teaming up with the Denver FBI office and the University of Colorado Denver.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams joined with FBI Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers and CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell today in welcoming elected officials and candidates to a training event at the Tivoli Turnhalle. The half day seminar was designed to help them maintain a posture of awareness and protect themselves from cyber intrusion.

Among those at today’s cybersecurity event put on by the FBI and the Colorado Secretary of State’s office were Fremont County Deputy Clerk Dotty Gardunio and elections director Jami Goff. Behind them are the SOS’ chief information security officer Rich Schliep and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. (SOS photo)

“We have with us today candidates, parties, and others because cybersecurity isn’t just limited to the actual election process,” Williams said, in his introduction.

“For a lot of individuals, when they hear a report of a hack, they don’t distinguish between the ballot and information that might have been obtained about a candidate or a party. So I appreciate your willingness to be here, your willingness to participate and, frankly, your willingness to actually show leadership in this area.”

Among those at Monday’s exercise were Martha Tierney, the attorney for the Colorado Democratic Party, Pam Anderson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, and Tom Lucero, a former member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents.

Read moreSecretary Williams teams up with FBI, CU Denver for cybersecurity event

Colorado’s county clerks contend with democracy and DRIVES

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams joined three members of the Arapahoe County Clerk’s office for a scenic photo outside the Salida SteamPlant where the Colorado County Clerks Association held its summer conference Aug. 20-22. From left to right, Williams, spokeswoman Haley McKean, Clerk Matt Crane and election manager Todd Davidson. (SOS photo)

Colorado’s county clerks gathered in Salida for their summer conference, combining educational workshops on various topics, such as election security, with lighthearted events, including visiting an arcade.

For some, the Colorado County Clerks Association conference was a bittersweet experience — more than one-fourth of the 64 county clerks will run their last election on Nov. 6. Some have decades of experience and have decided it is time to retire, others are term limited or choose not to stay in office.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, back row, left, mingles with county clerks at the opening night reception for the clerks summer conference in Salida Aug. 20-22. Front row: Lincoln County’s Corrine Lengel, Yuma County’s Bev Wenger, and Baca County’s Sharon Dubois. Back row, Williams, Logan County’s Pam Bacon and Adams County’s Stan Martin. (SOS photo)

“Working in the clerk’s office has been a wonderful, exciting ride,” said Moffat County Clerk Lila Herod, who began in 1989, eventually was elected clerk and now is term limited.

“I have been truly blessed to serve the citizens of Moffat County and to be in the company of the smartest, most dedicated, hardworking people in the world.”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams updated clerks on a variety of topics his office is handling.

“I served as El Paso County’s clerk and recorder so I understand what our clerks go through. They don’t just run elections. They record documents and register vehicles and more,” Williams said. “Our office is here to help them in any way we can.”

The clerks praised Williams and his staff for their efforts.

Read moreColorado’s county clerks contend with democracy and DRIVES

SOS staffer attends Def Con conference, says Colorado looks good

Colorado election officials at Def Con’s voting hacking village. Left to right: Dwight Shellman, county support manager for the Secretary of State, Amber McReynolds, Denver elections director, and Jennifer Morrell, Democracy Fund consultant. (Photo by Joe Kiniry, who led the team at Free & Fair that helped develop software for Colorado’s first-in-the country risk-limiting audit. )

Secretary of State staffer Dwight Shellman returned from a hacking convention with the message that although Colorado’s elections are secure from the types of voting machine and website attacks demonstrated at the conference, state and local officials need to remain vigilant.

The 26th annual Def Con conference featured a large number of “villages” in which attendees learned about and sometimes attempted to hack a broad range of technologies and platforms, including automobile software and cannabis cultivation technologies. .

Def Con’s voting village logo. (Def Con photo)

Shellman, the county support manager for the state Elections Division, focused most of his attention on the Voting Village, which invited participants to test “more than 30 pieces of electronic voting equipment” and “defend or hack mock office network and voter registration databases,” according to Def Con’s website.

He witnessed kiddie hackers gain access — but said the whole story wasn’t reported.

Read moreSOS staffer attends Def Con conference, says Colorado looks good

Bruce Benson, one of Colorado’s best

Bruce Benson smiles as he talks to reporters after he was voted to be president of the University of Colorado by the CU Board of Regents Feb. 20, 2008. (Rocky Mountain News/Western History/Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library)

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson’s announcement last week that he was retiring in a year brought much deserved accolades about his contributions to education, but the reality is Benson’s investment in Colorado straddles a variety of issues. We are all the better for it.

I covered the legislature in 2005 when deep, deep cuts still hadn’t solved the budget crisis. There were very real behind-the-scene discussions about what was next. Community colleges and state parks were on the list, even though closing them would trigger economic disasters in those regions.

Bruce, an oilman and business executive, and two other high-profile Republicans, Gov. Bill Owens and then CU President Hank Brown, put their reputations on the line to push for the passages of Referendums C and D. The right dissed the tax measures but the trio held firm.

“This isn’t about politics; this is about good fiscally conservative policies,” Benson told the Pueblo Chieftain.

Read moreBruce Benson, one of Colorado’s best

The best to you, Henry Sobanet

“Nobody has done more for Colorado than Henry Sobanet. There should be streets, buildings, and airports named after him. Henry stands as the antithesis of everything politics has sadly become. Though he stood at the helm of our budget, he cared not for money, but for making Colorado a better place.”

Budget director Henry Sobanet, center, and the two governors he worked for, Democrat John Hickenlooper on the left and Republican Bill Owens on the right, in 2015. Sobanet’s last day at the Capitol is today. (Sobanet picture)

The year was 2005 and I was assigned to cover the complicated ballot measures Ref C & D, dealing with taxes and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

I called the governor’s budget director, Henry Sobanet, all hours of the day and night. “Is this correct? What if that happens? Does this mean this?”

These days I’m answering phone calls from reporters.

At closing time recently I posted a Tweet about the ballot rejection rates from unaffiliated voters in two counties. Reporters immediately asked if I had more numbers. “I don’t,” I said,  “but I can call around to the clerks and get some.”

“You would do that on a Friday afternoon?” Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio asked.

Yes, because that’s my job.

Sobanet always answered his cell phone. I once had a a fairly lengthy budget conversation with him one Friday night before he finally admitted he was at a party and talking to me from inside someone’s bedroom.

Today is Sobanet’s last day at the state Capitol after serving the state and two governors for 20 years.

Read moreThe best to you, Henry Sobanet