Colorado

Morse Group Intimidates Petition Signers Outside of District, In Pueblo

Organizations

In a “do as I say, not as I do” moment, A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, via its Colorado Recall Watch project, is reportedly using voter intimidation tactics against local citizens who signed the official petition to recall Senator Angela Giron (D-Pueblo).

Comments flooded local news and social media sites in the last two days from named recall petition signers who have gone on record to say that they have been harassed by people working with Colorado Recall Watch and A Whole Lot of People for John Morse.

This comes immediately after the very same pro-Morse group accused the recall petitioners of illegal campaign activity and intimidation, both in Colorado Springs against Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and in Pueblo against Senator Angela Giron.

Colorado Recall Watch is not funded by Giron’s campaign or her supporters, but rather by the pro Morse group and its national affiliates. The project was previously exposed by Media Trackers Colorado when it first launched in April for hosting a misleading website, along with a series of robocalls and radio ads that labeled Morse recall petitioners as frauds and criminals attempting to invade Colorado Springs neighborhoods.

In early May, Colorado Recall Watch ran a robocall campaign against those gathering signatures to recall Morse, in which the advertisement warned residents to be concerned, demand that these petitioners leave their property, and even to report them to the police. At one point, the narrator said: “Criminals, convicted of forgery, fraud, and even sexual assault – if they are not already, these workers will be in your neighborhood soon.”

This week, Colorado Recall Watch began a campaign against Pueblo Freedom & Rights, the group responsible for gathering the recall signatures against Sen. Giron in Pueblo, forty miles south of Colorado Springs and Morse’s district.  Local residents who signed the recall petition reported multiple phone calls from Colorado Recall Watch, in which they were harshly questioned and told that Pueblo Freedom & Rights lied to them.

Reports have also come in that the group has been going door to door in an attempt to get the signers to have their names removed.

After being approached about removing her name from the recall petition, Stephanie Pena complained that she “is tired of elected officials not listening to the people that elected them…” adding, “If they won’t fight for my rights, I will!”

Richard Valencia, who lives in Pueblo West, said that he did not even know which group attempted to get him to change his mind about the recall petition. Valencia recounted that “a young man who looked to me to be a gang-banger knocked on my door” but that “at no time did this guy ID himself.”

Meanwhile, Senator Giron’s campaign, in coordination with the group Pueblo United for Angela, also recently began to reach out to those who signed the recall petition against her.

Jim Elson told the Pueblo Chieftain, “An individual called and asked if I remembered signing a petition pertaining to Senator Angela Giron. Of course I remember signing that petition. He laughed at me and said ‘Well, do you know you signed a petition that contained false and fictitious information?’ He then went on to say that I didn’t know what I was signing.”

“Why do you call me at home and berate me and tell me I’m so misinformed? It was so insulting,” Elson concluded.

Christopher Shallow, manager for Pueblo United for Angela, attempted to defend the group by explaining that, “It’s in our script to call, give your first name and at the end disclose that it’s paid for by Pueblo United for Angela.”

Both Giron and Morse have challenged the recall petitions against them, both of which were accepted and approved by the Colorado Secretary of State. They seek to label the petitions as illegal and attempt to convince as many citizens as possible to remove their names from the petition. As of Monday, the Secretary of State’s office confirmed however that no requests have been made for the removal of signatures on either petition.

Lee Hopper contributed to this post. 

Follow Kyle Forti on Twitter: @kyleforti