COLO. SPRINGS – Democrat Senate President John Morse, who is battling a recall, took another hit Tuesday when Republican Bernie Herpin vowed to take a leadership role in passing legislation to protect children from sexual predators. It was a thinly veiled attack on Morse’s voting record.
“As a father of three daughters and the grandfather of six young grandchildren, the safety of our children is an important issue for me,” declared Herpin.
The Colorado Springs Police Protective Association hammered Morse earlier this month for claiming he passed laws to protect children from being victimized by sex offenders. Not so, declared CSPPA, referring to Morse’s vote to kill Senate Bill 195 in 2008, which would have toughened penalties for convicted child predators.
CSPA, which represents more than 800 law enforcement officers, urged voters to recall Morse and elect Herpin in the Sept. 10 special election.
“John Morse blocked tougher laws protecting children from violent sexual predators, then passed unconstitutional laws disarming law-abiding citizens – over our objections,” said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.
Herpin has been endorsed by Maketa, who was one of 55 sheriffs who opposed the gun-control bills rammed through the legislature by Democrats who ignored constituents’ complaints. That ignited the grassroots drive to recall Morse and Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo).
If elected, Herpin pledged to work for the passage of Jessica’s Law at a press conference attended by Rep. Libby Szabo (R-Arvada), sponsor of the bill that Democrats derailed this year, CSPPA Vice President Mike Singels and former El Paso County Undersheriff Teri Goodall.
“I’m embarrassed to say that Colorado is one of only five states that have not enacted some form of Jessica’s law,” said Herpin.
Jessica’s Law is named after Jessica Lundsford who was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and brutally murdered in 2005 by a repeat sex offender in Florida. The repeat sex offender dropped from 34 percent to 2 percent after Florida enacted the law.
“It’s time for us to stop talking about the welfare of our children and start doing something about it,” said Szabo. “I’m here today supporting Bernie Herpin in the recall election because I know Bernie has the right priority – protecting our children.”
Szabo’s bill would have increased sentences for violent criminals convicted of a sexual assault on a child, 14 years or younger, or a child, 5 years or younger. An average of 43 percent of child molesters are released after serving only 3 years of 7-year sentences and 40 percent of sex crimes are committed by released sex offenders, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
In addition to Morse’s vote against SB 195, CSPPA said the Democrat lawmaker has a record of promoting shorter sentences for convicted criminals, reducing some felonies to misdemeanors for some crimes such as identity theft, and capping the number of criminals in Colorado prisons.
“We want to keep these guys in jail longer so that we can focus on the other ones out there,”” said Singels. “It endangers our community when we let people like that out of jail so they can do the same thing again.”
In defense of his voting record, Morse said that passing new measures, such as Jessica’s Law, would potentially conflict with Colorado’s complicated laws for sentencing for sexual offenders.
Attorney Mark Grueskin for A Whole Lot of People for John Morse filed a complaint this week against the Herpin campaign for distributing door hangers that encourage citizens to vote “yes” to recall Morse and “yes” to elect Herpin.
The door hanger cites Morse’s legislative record of raising taxes, gun-control and casting the deciding vote to kill SB 195, and being charged with ethics violations which were later dismissed.
The crux of the complaint is that a candidate committee cannot advocate for or against an issue – in this case recalling Morse. Grueskin demanded that Herpin’s campaign be fined $50 a day until it forms an issue campaign committee.
“The suggestion from Mr. Grueskin is to have our campaign break campaign finance law by illegally coordinating an issue campaign with a candidate campaign,” responded the Herpin campaign in a statement to The Colorado Observer.
“Our campaign can inform people about how they actually elect Bernie Herpin to the state Senate,” which requires voting for the recall of Morse and then for Herpin’s election.
“The Herpin campaign is doing this legally with our advertisements and will continue to do so,” concluded the statement.