War of Words Escalates as Recall Election Approaches

August 12, 2013
The two sides are trading barbs over ballot language

The two sides are now trading barbs over ballot language

COLO. SPRINGS – The Secretary of State’s office has approved the ballot language for the Sept. 10 election to recall Senate President John Morse –but the campaigns of the embattled Democrat lawmaker and his Republican challenger Bernie Herpin have raised objections to pro and con statements it contains.

Christy Le Lait, manager of A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, criticized Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office for cutting two paragraphs that attacked Herpin.

“Gessler basically decided what we could put in our statement,” Le Lait told the Huffington Post. “It’s unfair, to say the least, to give voters the wrong information when they read the ballot.”

“On the advice of the attorney general, we removed that language because it violates state law,” said Secretary of State spokesman Rich Coolidge according to the report.

The Colorado State Statute (CRS 1-12-112) allows a 300-word statement declaring why an elected official should or should not be recalled, but it prohibits “profane or false statements.”

The deleted statements had accused Herpin of opposing criminal background checks for gun buyers; as a Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition officer, he had objected to expanding the background checks.

In contrast, Morse’s defense campaign stated he is being recalled because “John responsibly voted to require criminal background checks for gun purchases.”

Also deleted was the Morse campaign allegation that Herpin had taken a $25,000 junket paid for Colorado Springs Utilities rate payers. When Herpin served on the Colorado Springs City Council, which is also the utilities’ board of directors, he participated in a water conference – the cost was $192.26.

Neither campaign mentioned that ethics complaints were filed against Morse twice during his tenure in the legislature. The charges in 2009 stemmed from Morse being paid $70,000 for the $99-a-day per diem and his salary.  Morse billed taxpayers $20,394 in per diem charges for 206 days of 239 days when the legislature was out of session. However, part of that time Morse was not in Colorado. Morse had been paid $3,500 by the State Legislative Leaders Foundation to travel to Beijing, China and received $1,730 to attend conferences in Orlando, San Francisco and San Diego.

The pro-Morse statement accuses the recall effort by The Basic Freedom Defense Fund of “spending millions on a negative campaign to recall your twice-elected senator, John Morse.” And the statement implores the electorate to “Vote NO on the out-of-state billionaires” spending money on the recall.

The combined sums spent by campaigns for and against the recall election don’t come close to $1 million. The Basic Freedom Defense Fund raised $84,118, mostly in-kind contributions from Colorado Springs-based I Am Created Equal, a 501 (C) (4) committee.

A Whole Lot of People for John Morse campaign raised $160,866, including $7,858 in-kind contributions according to the July 5 finance report. Nearly 60 percent of the campaign money came from nine special interest committees and the Colorado and El Paso County Democratic parties.  More than half of the contributions – 56 percent – are from donors outside of Colorado.

The campaign for Herpin, who is running to replace Morse if recalled, has raised $37,783 including $15,000 from the Colorado Republican Party.  About 8.5 percent of the contributions were from outside of Colorado.

“John Morse is trying to divert attention away from his own record in office with these misleading statements,” said Colorado Springs City Council President Keith King, a Herpin supporter.

The ballot Statement of Grounds for the Recall of Senator John Morse:

Senator John Morse (D- Colorado Springs) has failed to represent the interests of his constituents and has taken direction national organizations that do not represent the values and liberties of Colorado citizens.

Despite having sworn to support and uphold the Constitution and of Colorado, he has shown contempt for the constitutional liberties of the people he represents. He proposed legislation that shifted liability to firearms manufacturers and gun owners from violent criminals where it rightfully belonged. His legislation was drafted with significant input from the Brady Campaign, which attempts to subvert the Second Amendment rights of citizens. He has limited public debate in the Senate and thereby minimized the opinions of Colorado citizens but permitted celebrities from other states to express their opinions on Colorado bills. These actions have shown contempt for firearm manufacturers and for the rights of Colorado citizens. Additionally, it was clearly an abuse of the coercive powers of government.

Senator Morse’s abuse of his office and his failure to respect the rights and interests of his constituents necessitates his recall from office as the only reasonable and available means to defend the inalienable liberties of the citizens of his district.

Senator John Morse’s Statement:

Vote NO on the out-of-state billionaires and extremists who are wasting $150,000 of our tax money and spending millions on a negative campaign to recall your twice-elected senator, John Morse. They are doing this because John responsibly voted to require criminal background checks for gun purchases.

In the state senate, his priorities are public safety, creating new jobs, strengthening our economy, and helping our veterans who have defended our freedom.

John Morse has spent most of his life serving our community as a paramedic, police officer and Police Chief. He has firsthand experience treating gunshot victims on the streets of Colorado Springs and has been shot at himself. He led the fight to crack down on sexual predators and put them in prison where they belong. Join John in voting NO to protect our kids.

Vote NO on felons and spouse abusers buying guns. Say NO to extremists. Vote NO on recalling John Morse because it is Better to be Safe than Sorry.

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