DENVER (AP) – A Colorado senator targeted for recall argued Wednesday that the Republican secretary of state’s office can’t fairly decide her challenge, in the latest push to derail the recall efforts against Democratic lawmakers who supported gun control.
A lawyer for a supporter of Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo argued that Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office shouldn’t judge her recall challenge because Gessler reportedly met with Giron opponents and counseled them on starting a recall effort.
Giron is challenging recall petition on the grounds that it wasn’t properly worded. A second Democratic senator targeted for recall because of his gun votes, Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs, is making the same challenge. Morse expected a ruling from Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert Wednesday.
The Democratic lawyer trying to block both recall elections, Mark Grueskin, made the recusal request after seeing a March account in The Pueblo Chieftain of Gessler meeting with Giron opponents who wanted to recall her.
“This is an event and an act that calls into question the ability of the secretary to render a decision without the appearance of impropriety,” Grueskin said.
Staiert told Grueskin she’d had no conversations with Gessler about the Giron recall. She said the office would issue a ruling by the end of the day, possibly sending Giron’s recall to an administrative law judge instead of the secretary of state’s office. Giron wasn’t present.
Walking by reporters after the Giron hearing, Gessler said he couldn’t confirm the Chieftain report that he counseled recall organizers because of the pending legal proceeding. The story said that Gessler didn’t advocate for Giron to be recalled, just counseled her opponents in how to do it.
Giron and Morse are being targeted for recalls because they both supported gun control measures. Gun-rights activists say Democrats went too far curbing gun rights with two of the measures – one to restrict ammunition magazines and another to expand required background checks.
Four Democrats were initially targeted, but recall petitions only made it to completion against Morse and Giron. Gessler’s office has said the Morse and Giron petitions had enough valid signatures to force recall elections, possibly later this summer. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper would ultimately set the recall election dates, but not before legal challenges are exhausted.
If Morse and Giron face recall elections, they’d be the first state lawmakers to go to a recall vote since Colorado adopted the recall in 1912.
The recall campaigns have gotten nasty in Pueblo and Colorado Springs, with both sides accusing the other of intimidation and misleading voters.
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
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