COLO. SPRINGS – The latest twist in the rocky road to recall Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) are charges of deception lodged against volunteers seeking petition signatures.
The new allegations come on the heels of claims by Morse supporters that petition gatherers were sex offenders, and just weeks after a poll showed a slim edge for recall backers.
The El Paso County Democratic Party held a press conference Thursday to air the complaints of constituents who said, “I was misled!” and “I was bullied!” according to Christy Le Lait, director of the A Whole Lot of People for John Morse effort.
“Mostly volunteers carrying petitions claim that John Morse passed legislation to allow late term abortions,” said Le Lait, who is also Executive Director of the county Democratic Party. “I don’t know where they get that. It’s ridiculous.”
But supporters of the recall effort suggested that Democrats, fearful that the recall effort will succeed, may be grasping at straws. Some assert the Democrats may be attempting to create an atmosphere of doubt about the petition drive to challenge the validity of signatures.
The recall effort requires 7,178 petition signatures to be delivered by June 3 to the Secretary of State’s office, which will verify that signers are residents of Senate District 11.
Morse will also have an opportunity to challenge signatures – and that, some speculated, may have been the premise for the press conference Thursday at the county Democratic Party headquarters – to claim some signers were misled.
“The Democrats will try everything to cloud this recall effort,” said former El Paso County Commissioner Jim Bensberg, who served as Regional Director for former U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard.
“The Democrats will try every possible tactic to save John Morse,” Bensberg added.
El Paso Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams said that Morse or his supporters can attempt to use a proviso in the petition laws which allows for a claim that petition signers were “substantially misled.”
However, Williams said, “I think they have an uphill battle here.”
Le Lait said there was video tape showing that the signers were duped. In fact, the video released Thursday paints a less clear picture.
The petition carrier instructed the man in the video to read the petition statement before signing. The man perused the petition statement and said he’d think about it, but he did not sign it.
Laura Carno, founder of the non-profit women’s group I Am Created Equal told The Observer last week, “The voters in Senate District 11 are clearly leaning toward recalling Senator Morse.”
”They are paying attention to the gun bill debate, they don’t have a highly favorable image of Senator Morse, and are more sharply in favor of the recall when they hear of proposed legislation,” added Carno.
Le Lait told The Observer that people were asked to sign the petition to protect their 2nd Amendment rights.
“They were not told it was a petition to recall Morse,” maintained Le Lait, “And like a lot of people, they didn’t read the petition statement.”
In one scenario, she said, a petition signature gatherer allegedly said that the recall movement was because Morse was in cahoots with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to not only steal gun rights but also to push a United Nations agenda which some believe would make it easier to disarm Americans.
Le Lait’s claims of deception were not substantiated by the Democrats’ video released Thursday.
Most of the volunteers to recall Morse are stationed at gun shops and gun shows. Paid workers hired by Colorado Springs-based Kennedy Enterprise are canvassing neighborhoods in the Senate district.
Morse was a driving force behind the gun-control bills, and instrumental in scheduling committees to hear several of the bills at the same time – and that cut off public comment.
He also sponsored, but later withdrew, a bill that would have held gun manufacturers, retailers and even individual owners legally liable for damage caused by certain firearms – even if the gun in question was lost or sold.
The Basic Freedom Defense Fund and The El Paso County Freedom Defense Committee, spearheading the effort to recall Morse, were attacked earlier this monthr by a group that backs Morse, claiming in a controversial robocall that petition circulators were potential sex offenders or identity thieves.
A complaint has been filed against the group that paid for the call, “A Whole Lot of People for John Morse,” for using the scare tactics to prevent people from signing the petitions – a claim with roots tying back to an allegation that felons and sex offenders were circulating recall petitions.
Left wing news sources have also implied that Colorado Springs-based Kennedy Enterprises “has a history of using fraud and deception.”
Kennedy Enterprises dismisses those allegations as “completely false.”
Similar complaints have been made against the liberal Grassroots Campaigns and former Rep. Joe Miklosi (D-Denver) — who came under fire for employing a convicted drug felon to raise funds for the Democrat’s 6th Congressional District bid against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman last year.