Hot Sheet

Mesa County clerk candidate’s car is her calling card

Author: Dan Njegomir - April 4, 2018 - Updated: April 4, 2018

(Bobbie Gross For County Clerk via Facebook)

Mesa County clerk and recorder candidate Bobbie Gross is currently the manager of motor vehicle registration for the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. But it’s the way she manages her own motor vehicle that is giving her opponent fits.

Reports the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, rival candidate Tina Peters complained to Mesa County commissioners this week that Gross’s daily use of a high-visibility parking place near her office to showcase her car — emblazoned on the side with, “Bobbie Gross for Mesa County Clerk & Recorder” — amounts to a violation of campaign law.

Turns out, as the Sentinel’s Gary Harmon notes, Peters probably doesn’t have much of a case against Gross after all: The car is in fact on a private lot even though it’s near the Clerk & Recorder’s Office, so there doesn’t appear to be any misuse of public funding or facilities to promote a candidacy. And even if Gross had parked her mobile billboard on public property, she likely is within her First Amendment rights to tout herself on her own vehicle. It’s kind of like those cars you see festooned with bumper stickers around election time; free speech.

All of which prompted Mesa County commissioners to sidestep Peters’s attempt to insert them into the controversy:

“I’m real uneasy” about wading into the issue, Commissioner Scott McInnis said, suggesting that Peters might be better off referring her doubts to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

Gross and Peters are vying to replace current Clerk Sheila Reiner, who is term-limited.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.