May 6, 2013 8:42 PM by Jacqui Heinrich, firstname.lastname@example.org
The campaign to recall some state legislators is heating up in the wake of gun control legislation.
The recall effort is targeting those leaders who showed the strongest support for gun control bills, with Senate President John Morse seemingly at the top of the list. His camp is fighting back with a counter-campaign opposing the recall effort, and while it's clear what both sides are trying to do, it's not clear who is behind the recall campaign.
"This is what we do for a living. We travel around the country, we go from city to city, state to state, we put issues and candidates on the ballot for basically anybody who has money," a man who identifies himself as Tracy Taylor can be heard saying on an undercover video El Paso County Democrats say was taken at a training session for signature gatherers at Kennedy Enterprises. They're group that was hired to gather signatures to support recalling Senate President John Morse. In the past few weeks their workers have been seen gathering signatures outside grocery stores and in neighborhoods around Colorado Springs.
"It's absolutely legal, it's just unethical," Kathleen Ricker, Party Chair for the El Paso County Democrats told News 5. Obviously against the Morse recall, Ricker's group is supporting a controversial advertisement that hit radio airwaves this week. At one point the narrator says of Kennedy Enterprises, "Reports show that this group has faced accusations of fraud and deception they've even been caught employing criminals to go from neighborhood to neighborhood to collect their data. Criminals convicted of fraud, forgery, and even sexual assault."
"People don't really understand that the people who are gathering signatures are not people for or against this issue, they're mercenaries just trying to make money, and they have very questionable backgrounds," Ricker said.
Though Kennedy Enterprises didn't answer News 5's inquiries as to whether they did background checks on current employees, we did confirm the company faced allegations that they did hire criminals including at least one sex offender that was going door to door on a petition issue back in 2008.
The bigger question at hand: who hired Kennedy Enterprises despite their questionable background? Not the El Paso County Republican Party; they sent us a statement saying they have nothing to do with the recall campaign. See the bottom of this article for the full statement.
As it turns out, Kennedy Enterprises was hired by the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, run by Nick Andrasik. Andrasik has been in the news recently for using unsavory language on his blog to describe some pro-gun control politicians-- something recall supporters think could distract from the overall message of the campaign. But since B.F.D.F. is a 501C4 organization, Andrasik doesn't have to disclose who is donating money to the cause, although some out-of-staters have announced online that they're funding it.
The only thing that is for sure is there are a lot of people in this community who support the initiative, no matter who is behind it. "Regardless of who is running ads or robo-calls or whatever diversions or distractions are out there, those aren't the issues. The issue is we've got gun bills that have passed that voters don't like," Laura Carno, founder of I Am Created Equal told News 5's Jacqui Heinrich.
To put the Morse recall on the ballot for voters to decide on, recall organizers need 7,200 signatures, 25% of the overall turnout for the original election. They have until June 3rd to get them.
Below is the full statement from the El Paso County Republican Party:
"The recall effort for John Morse in response to his dismal record is independent of the El Paso County Republicans. In fact, with the current campaign finance and tax law restrictions, it would probably be improper for the Party to coordinate with their campaign. El Paso is a common sense county and it's no surprise to us that voters here are rejecting Morse's liberal views. Moving forward, our ongoing goal is to empower voters from across the political spectrum with good information about what the values that Republicans hold to such as constitutional integrity, financial responsibility, and government that works for the people, not against them." -Cherish Schaffer, El Paso County Republican Party