The recall efforts by gun rights activists to remove pro gun-control Colorado senator Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) and senate president John Morse (D-Colo. Springs) from office will continue following a decision made by the office of the secretary of state.
Deputy secretary of state Suzanne Staiert confirmed that the recall petitions signed by Colorado voters to trigger the recall election were constitutional following challenges by Morse and Giron which claimed that they were not properly worded.
Additionally, Angela Giron filed for a change of venue, saying that the Republican-led secretary of state’s office would not be able to fairly decide if the petition to recall her was written in compliance with the state’s laws. He request was denied, although both are expected to appeal the decision in Denver district court.
Morse’s argument was that the petition was incomplete, and that the petition didn’t state that there would have to be an election to replace the senator.
“No one quibbles that this language is a requirement of the Constitution,” argued attorney Mark Grueskin on behalf of Morse at the closed hearing. “[O]ver half the voter’s in Morse’s district were mistaken about what would happen next in the recall process. The whole point of the requirements is that there be real information in the petition so that people know what they’re signing up for, not just a Morse recall, but also an open election to name his successor.”
Victor Head, Pueblo Freedom and Rights organizer defended the petition, saying “The petition itself is asking for a recall election. Splicing the meaning of ‘ask’ doesn’t sit well with people. There were lawyers who drew up that language and the Secretary of State gave us the petition. We just put in the specifics.”
Grueskin is prepared to take the decision to the state supreme court.
“They delivered above and beyond the number of signatures needed to commence the recall process,” said Recall Senator John Morse spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns. “The people of Colorado knew darn well what they were signing; they want to recall the elected officials who are drastically out of touch with their constituents.
“Any further legal challenge will be yet another attempt to delay and deny justice to his own constituents.”
Morse’s attorney criticized the finding, saying that it was the product of partisan politics. Secretary of state Scott Gessler is a proponent of the Republican party and has a history with Morse. But secretary of state spokesman Andrew Cole defended the decision.
“I’m frustrated by this conflict of interest narrative. Suzanne Staiert is the deputy secretary of state and a former judge. It’s her decision. It’s not Scott Gessler’s decision … I would push back on this notion that Scott Gessler is partisan and that this weighs on the decision at all.”
More than enough signatures needed to begin the recall process were collected by gun rights groups Pueblo Freedom and Rights, Basic Freedom Defense Fund and I Am Created Equal earlier this year following the senators’ endorsement and passage of strict new gun control laws that have took effect July 1.
Unless the recall petitions are successfully appealed in court, Colorado Govenor John Hickenlooper (D) will have two months to schedule new elections for both seats.