DENVER — Supporters of state Senate President John Morse, who faces a recall election in early September, will file a criminal complaint Monday asking for an investigation into thousands of recall petition signatures they believe were forged.
On Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an order scheduling recall elections against Morse and Sen. Angela Giron, both under fire from constituents for supporting gun control legislation earlier this year, to take place on Sept. 10.
That order came just hours after a Denver district judge ruled against the two lawmakers, both Democrats, who’d challenged the Secretary of State’s certification of the signatures on the grounds that the petitions didn’t follow a constitutional mandate to include language about voters being forced to pick a successor.
Morse’s team first claimed that some of the petitions were forged last month, as the legal battle over them was still playing out.
Now that it’s over with — Morse and Giron both said Thursday they’d forgo a final appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court — the pivot to a criminal investigation is aimed at getting constituents to question the validity of the recall election itself, which will be the first in Colorado history.
“The evidence that I have provided the District Attorney’s office calls into question the validity of the entire petition gathering process,” said Christy Le Lait, a volunteer who’s heading up the group defending Morse, in a press release over the weekend. “There should be a swift and thorough investigation. Any incidents of forgery and perjury should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
The group, “A Whole Lot of People for John Morse”, plans to file the request Monday at 11 a.m. outside the Fourth District D.A.’s office in Colorado Springs.
“There are many categories of faulty signatures,” the investigation request reads, “Including petitions that were not properly notarized, signatures from voters who live outside Senate District 11 and some forgeries. In all, we were able to find 2,149 faulty signatures.”
The group behind the recall, the Basic Freedoms Defense Fund, has insisted that they have followed the rules.
More than 10,000 valid signatures were certified to recall Morse, more than 3,000 above the 7,178 signature threshold — a quarter of the votes cast in Morse’s last election — to force a recall election.
On Monday morning, BFDF issued a response labeling Morse’s team’s tactics as “thuggery.”
“Today’s baseless accusations are yet more fiction being spun by John Morse’s team.” said BFDF’s Jennifer Kerns. “John Morse has now become so desperate his team is willing to say anything to help him keep his seat — even accusing his own constituents of fraud.
“For weeks, they promised to produce scores of constituents who were ‘confused’ by the Petitions; yet in Court they never called a single witness to testify to that, not one. John Morse’s campaign consists of a pattern of baseless, bogus accusations uttered in public that are never backed up by facts in a court of law.
“A campaign can do many things, but it cannot have its own version of the facts and reality.”