DENVER — The group trying to save state Senate President John Morse from having to face a recall election announced Friday that it believes many of the petitions turned in by recall organizers were forged.
At least 50 people who apparently signed petitions to recall Morse for his support of gun control legislation have now signed affidavits saying that they, in fact, never actually signed a recall petition themselves.
The group “A Whole Lot of People for John Morse” believes that the possible forgeries are more widespread; they say the 50 people who’ve signed their affidavits are just a small sample of the signers.
When Morse’s group knocked on one man’s door last week to verify his wife’s signature, they were informed that she died two years ago.
“These organizers claim to have more than 10,000 signatures, but now it appears they have potentially thousands of forged signatures,” said Christy LeLait, campaign manager for “A Whole Lot of People for John Morse”.
“This is not a grassroots effort. We’re finding that paid signature gatherers got most of these signatures, and we’re seeing that they’ll do anything to get that $3 per petition.”
Organizers said they’ll ask the El Paso County District Attorney to file criminal charges against at least one of the paid signature gatherers.
Kennedy Enterprises was hired by a 501(c)4 group, “I Am Created Equal”, to gather most of the signatures, although volunteers also circulated petitions.
It’s unclear whether the paid signature gatherer Morse’s team has singled out for the forged documents was working for Kennedy or on a volunteer basis.
“This is fraud. This is identity theft,” said LeLait. “The people and groups responsible for bringing this type of fraud and deception into our neighborhoods should be held accountable.
“It’s time to put an end to the deceit. Voters of Colorado Springs deserve a full investigation before anyone demands an election. Imaginary signatures does not a recall make.”
Jennifer Kerns, a spokesperson for the group trying to recall Morse, the Basic Freedoms Defense Fund, told FOX31 Denver Friday afternoon that they’re looking into the allegations.
“If there appears to be even the slightest amount of fraud, we, too, ask that it be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Kerns said.
The announcement in Colorado Springs Friday comes a day after Morse’s legal team made its case before the Secretary of State’s office, which validated the petitions earlier this month, that the signatures aren’t valid because the forms didn’t include language informing signers that a recall election would also force voters in Senate District 11 to pick Morse’s successor.
Kerns told FOX31 Denver Thursday that it followed the law throughout the petition process.
Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, who presided over Thursday’s hearing, is set to issue her ruling by next Wednesday; the losing side is expected to file an appeal in district court.
If Morse is unable to get the signatures thrown out, he’d become the first state lawmaker in Colorado history to face a recall election.
Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, could become the second.
On Monday, the Secretary of State’s office validated the signatures turned in to force a recall in her district.
Like Morse, Giron is protesting that the petitions circulated weren’t valid.