DENVER–Democratic state Sen. Angela Giron is embroiled in a dispute over an unidentified man who can be seen on video slipping cash to her supporters during an anti-recall protest.
The video, taken by a volunteer with the recall committee and posted Friday on Colorado Peak Politics, shows an older man handing what appear to be $20 bills to Giron backers as they picket in front of a table set up to gather signatures to force a recall of the Democratic state senator from Pueblo.
Paying campaign workers to hold a protest is not a violation of campaign-finance laws, as long as the payments are recorded as part of an expenditure filing, but Giron insists that she doesn’t know the man and that the cash was handed out without her knowledge.
“I think it’s pretty suspicious that it would be on tape,” Giron told the Pueblo Chieftain. “He was just shopping and came by there because of the volunteers, and gave three of them each $20. They didn’t want it. I never met him before, but I think he was at one of my community coffee [meetings] a couple weeks ago. [The volunteers] gave me the $60 and I gave it to the issue committee.”
Not buying it is Victor Head, the lead of the recall committee, who says Giron volunteers told him they were being paid and that he saw Giron speaking to the unidentified man. One videotape shows her standing next to the man as she holds a sign.
“I’ve talked to her protesters before, and they’ve admitted they were paid,” said Head.
As for Giron’s statement that she didn’t know the man, “I think it’s a little disingenuous for her to say ‘I don’t know who he is,’ when she was talking to him for 10 minutes,” said Head.
He said his volunteers began recording the protests at the suggestion of Pueblo police. A member of the recall group can be heard in one video asking protesters to stop blocking the signing table.
“We were running video because they kept blocking our tables, making it difficult for people to sign,” said Head. “The police told us to start filming it, so we did. A couple of times they were really close to the table and kind of heckling our supporters, but police told them to move.”
Despite that, Head says he has no plans at this time to file a formal complaint. He noted that Giron supporters have filed a complaint regarding the recall committee’s donations, which he described as “bogus.”
“I put the video out to let people decide for themselves what’s going on,” said Head. “At most it’s going to be a campaign-finance violation. We haven’t decide whether we’re going to pursue it . . . I’m not a malicious person. I’m just a regular person who wants my rights back.”
A Pueblo plumber, Head launched the recall effort along with his brother, Adam Head, and Ernest Mascarenas after Giron voted in favor of three gun-control bills in March. The group submitted 13,570 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office last week, about 20 percent more than the 11,285 required valid signatures necessary to force a recall election.
Another group has submitted signatures to recall Senate President John Morse. The Secretary of State’s office is expected to announce this week whether the Morse effort has enough valid signatures.
Chris Shallow, campaign manager for Pueblo United for Angela, told 9News that he will turn over the $60 in cash given to volunteers to the state’s unclaimed property fund.
“The volunteers don’t know who the guy is. He didn’t tell them his name. Senator Giron doesn’t know who this guy is. I am treating this money as an anonymous contribution,” said Shallow.
Both Colorado Peak Politics and 9News have asked readers to contact them if they know who the man is. Head said he has been told the man is a political activist, but has not attempted to verify his identity.
So far the pro-Giron campaign has raised more than 10 times more money than the recall campaign. The latest campaign filings show Pueblo United for Angela has collected more than $71,000, versus less than $7,000 raised by Pueblo Freedom and Rights.
The Giron camp’s biggest donations come from three liberal groups: $35,000 from the Sixteen Thirty Fund in Washington, D.C., $15,000 from Mainstream Colorado in Denver, and $20,000 from Citizens for Integrity in Denver.
“She keeps accusing us of being outside interests, but we’re just regular guys,” said Head.
The video is embedded below.