In 2010, Alissa Vander Veen served as deputy campaign manager for Darryl Glenn in his successful run for El Paso County commissioner. This time around, as Glenn moves for re-election in District 1, Vander Veen's back as a volunteer, helping with the media.
But between campaigns, she's also taken on another role: chief deputy and communications manager with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office, which will run this election.
Might her off-time activities conflict with her day job?
"Our policy is that anybody can volunteer to do anything," she says. "That's political speech, so I am free to do and participate in whatever I'd like to."
According to El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, Vander Veen is well within her rights.
"It's state law that says, generally, that you can't forbid an employee from engaging in political activities," he says, as long as they do such work on their own time, and don't use municipal equipment.
He adds that it might be different if she handled "the testing of equipment, or other things like that." But Vander Veen "issues press releases about our office. In terms of the actual physically being in control of the elections, she doesn't have codes to the secured elections rooms."
Luis Toro, of Colorado Ethics Watch, says that he believes that if Williams wanted, he could curtail involvement by his employees in campaigns. "This is an issue of 'the smell test,' and from that standpoint, I think this is very unwise," he says, adding, "Everybody's going to think that the fix is in. She shouldn't do it, but I don't think that anybody other than her boss is in a position to do something about it."
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