Outside groups rev up involvement in recall campaigns

DENVER — The efforts to recall two Colorado Democrats for their support of gun control legislation earlier this year, at first thinly veiled proxy wars for groups on both sides of the issue, are transforming now into full-fledged campaigns, driven again mostly by well-funded groups outside the state.

In Colorado Springs, where Senate President John Morse faces a recall election in Sept. 10, one outside group that isn’t forced to disclose its donors spent more than $60,000 on petition gatherers to force the election itself.

Now, gun control advocates are revving up their efforts to help Morse, along with Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, who also faces a recall on Sept. 10 in her district, survive.

On Monday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg admitted that his group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the driving force behind the passage of Colorado’s gun control measures, would be spending money to help Morse and Giron.

“I certainly hope so,” Bloomberg said when asked if he’d be supporting the embattled lawmakers, whose situation was front page news in the New York Times Monday.

Bloomberg added: “These two elected officials apparently had the courage to stand up and vote for a sensible gun law where you just have background checks to keep people with mental illnesses, and people with criminal records from buying guns. Something that 80 or 90 percent even of N.R.A. members are in favor of.”

Additionally, Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Super PAC founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, sent a fundraising email to its supporters Monday asking for contributions to help Morse and Giron.

Morse’s own group, drawing on outside contributions, placed a $70,000 buy to run television ads in the Colorado Springs market starting this week.

The minute-long ad emphasizes Morse’s experience as a police chief and his record as a lawmaker who passed public safety legislation, including the gun control measures, which go unmentioned in the spot.

The pro-recall side is also certain to be on the airwaves as the election date draws near.

Laura Carno, who runs “I Am Created Equal”, the 501(c)4 group that funded the recall effort, told FOX31 Denver Monday that her group will be active during the campaign.

“I am actively talking to donors and plan to be very active in placing ads in favor of recalling Senator Morse,” Carno said. “I plan to remind voters that Senator Morse refused to listen to them when they had concerns about how much he had changed.

“Politicians are not kings, and the voters know that they are the ones who hired Sen. Morse, and they can fire him.”

Dudley Brown, the executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, hinted last week that his organization would be buying air time in Colorado Springs as well.

On Monday, his national organization, the National Association for Gun Rights, released its own 30-second spot, which alleges that Morse is “taking his cues from east coast politicians” like Bloomberg.