Colorado election staffer witnesses historic Armenian election

Steve Bouey and his observation team partner, Magda, from Poland. (Steve Bouey photo)

Steve Bouey, the campaign finance manager for the Colorado Secretary of State, just completed travel to his 74th country.

Bouey felt right at home in Armenia. The altitude in the capital city of Yerevan is only 1,000 feet lower than that of Denver’s famous Mile High mark. And Armenia’s landscape is filled with mountains and picturesque forests.

As an observer for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Bouey has traveled abroad dozens of times and met hundreds of foreigners who are passionate about establishing and maintaining free and fair elections.

This was the first election of its kind in Armenia. A constitutional referendum approved in December 2015 changed the government from a semi-presidential system to a parliamentary system.

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The not-so secret lives of Secretary of State staffers

A year ago, Wyatt Ryder hiked more than 40 miles in the Grand Canyon. He recently joined the Secretary of State's office as an HR technician. He mentioned the hike and also his fluency in Russian when asked to provide three facts about himself.
A year ago, Wyatt Ryder hiked more than 40 miles in the Grand Canyon. He recently joined the Secretary of State’s office as an HR technician. He mentioned the hike and also his fluency in Russian when asked to provide facts about himself. (Ryder photo)

Carla Moore’s cousin wrote “Mustang Sally.” Jackie Cuin caught the bouquet at her husband’s first wedding. National Geographic in 2010 named Steve Bouey one of its “Adventurers of the Year.”

When the Colorado Secretary of State’s office asked staffers to provide three “fun or unique” facts about themselves, all sorts of factoids came out.

Joel Albin went as a French maid the last time he dressed up for Halloween. Chris Cash served as an official scorekeeper when Denver hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1990.  Kris Reynolds’ declared major in college was “Music Performance for the Violin.

And although Jessamyn Geesaman went through years of speech therapy, when she gets mad she still sounds a bit like Elmer Fudd.

The fun-facts exercise was all part of employee appreciation week at the Colorado SOS. The event included daily quizzes for prizes, a scavenger hunt and pastries and coffee.

“I’ve been privileged to work with a wonderful group of people these past two years,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams. “My colleagues’ quirks and experiences outside government guide us as we develop common sense solutions to help Coloradans.”

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Goodbye to the positive Jan Perry

Jan Perry and D.J. Davis, at her retirement party Thursday. In the background are campaign finance manager Steve Bouey and Trent Parker from the IT division. (Kris Reynolds photo)
Jan Perry and D.J. Davis, the deputy director of the Business & Licensing Division, at her retirement party Thursday. In the background are campaign finance manager Steve Bouey and Josh Johnson in voter registration. (Kris Reynolds photo)

For someone who worked at the Secretary of State’s office for less than four years, Jan Perry’s retirement festivities were a big deal.

Her colleagues in the Election Division hosted a potluck lunch for her on Thursday. Later that afternoon, other staffers joined them in the conference room for cake, cupcakes and fruit.

Perry admitted she was surprised at how many people showed up, but then as Secretary of Wayne Williams wrote in her retirement letter, “Your co-workers universally love your can-do spirit and willingness to happily take on all duties. Everyone has mentioned how much you will be missed.”

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Kris Reynolds to the rescue

Colorado Secretary of State staffers join in for a surprise birthday party for campaign finance guru Kris Reynolds, center, who is seated next to her mother, Sandy Reynolds, right. (SOS photo)
Colorado Secretary of State staffers join in Tuesday for a surprise birthday party for campaign finance trainer Kris Reynolds, center, who is seated next to her mother, Sandy Reynolds, right. (SOS photo)

One of the e-mails I received after ending a 35-year-career in journalism to join the Colorado Secretary of State’s office came from Michele Austin, a Republican I met covering the Colorado legislature who advised me, “Get to know Kris.”

She was referring to Kris Reynolds, part of the SOS’ campaign finance team. Ever since I went to work for Secretary Wayne Williams 13 months ago, Kris has been there to hand hold, advise and say sweetly, “It’s OK, Lynn. Campaign finance is complicated.”

And that’s why Kris didn’t suspect a thing when I called her at 3 p.m. today to say, “I’ve got 9News in my office right now and they’re asking campaign finance questions I don’t know how to answer. Can you come help?”

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Colorado scores an “A” for campaign finance transparency

Coloradp makes the grade when it come to campaign finances.
Colorado makes the grade when it come to campaign finances.

The National Institute on Money in State Politics gave Colorado an “A” for its campaign finance transparency.

The state received a score of 92.5 — the national average was 77 points — on its practices dealing with direct contributions to candidates, parties and ballot measure committees.

“We worked very hard in Colorado to develop a transparent campaign finance disclosure program,” said Steve Bouey, campaign finance program manager for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. “We’re continuously striving to leverage technology and other tools to make it easy for citizens to access this important information.

“It’s great to get recognition from a nationally recognized and respected source.”

The Institute released its annual report this week on its website, followthemoney.org.

“Although a handful of states received very high marks, the ‘C’ national average highlights the need for improvements to be made in the vast majority of states in order to ensure the public has timely access to thorough information about who is funding state campaigns,” the Institute wrote in the report it released this week.

The Institute’s scoring methodology is based on a set of criteria measuring the disclosure of contributor information, the timeliness and quality of campaign finance data, and public access to the data.

A researcher with the Institute noted about Colorado that “improvements in scores for some questions would require legislative action, and some are subject to budgetary or technological restrictions outside of an agency’s control.”

Maine scored the highest with 100, while Mississippi was the lowest with 37.5 points.