Facing recalls, Morse, Giron challenge TV ad, mailer

Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, faces a recall election on Sept. 10.

Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, faces a recall election on Sept. 10.

DENVER — With less than two weeks until voters cast ballots in the first two recall elections in Colorado history, both state lawmakers defending their seats are taking legal action– again.

On Tuesday, an attorney for Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, filed a cease and desist order with Xfinity asking the cable provider to stop airing an ad by a group supporting their recall that offers a misleading and context-free interpretation of something Morse said back in March.

As FOX31 Denver reported already this week, the spot from Free Colorado, a pro-Second Amendment group backing the recalls, highlights a March 8 speech in which Morse paraphrased a Robert F. Kennedy speech about the scourge of violence that he gave following Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968.

“This much is clear, violence breeds violence, repression breeds retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our souls,” Morse said on the Senate floor back in March.

A raft of conservatives, starting with Independence Institute President John Caldara, have alleged that Morse was stating that all gun owners have that “sickness” in their own souls, which was not the case.

That’s the same allegation made in the 60-second TV ad from Freedom Colorado.

“To insinuate that I referred to gun owners as a ‘sickness from our souls’ is obscene,” Morse said Tuesday. “As a former police officer and a gun owner myself, I believe in the right to bear arms. And as a legislator, I am committed to making our whole society healthier and safer.”

A press release announcing the cease and desist order also takes issue with the ad’s allegation that Giron paid “political thugs to harass recall supporters”.

“There have been no facts provided to back up this preposterous claim,” the press release states. “This ad rises to the level of defamation by alleging that each of these individuals has engaged in any criminal behavior.”

In response, Freedom Colorado made the following statement:

“John Morse is a lousy revisionist historian. In a rambling, angry tirade on the Senate floor, Senator Morse bashed gun owners, gun organizations, and gun dealers and manufacturers, punctuated with his now infamous ‘cleansing a sickness from our souls’ invective. Words have meaning. We encourage the media to play the Morse speech in its entirety, and let the people decide for themselves.”

Herpin mailer draws ethics complaint

On Monday, Democrats also filed a formal complaint against Republican Bernie Herpin, who is running to replace Morse should his constituents vote yes on recalling him, over a piece of campaign literature.

A “door-hanger” with a picture of Morse above a litany of complaints about his legislative record states “Paid for by Bernie Herpin for Senate District 11.”

Under Colorado law, expenditures on campaign mail and other efforts to support a recall election must be made by an issues committee, not a candidate committee as is the case here.

Put another way: there must be separate committees supporting the recall of Morse and the candidacy of Herpin or any other candidate.

Also Monday, Gov. John Hickenlooper asked the Colorado Supreme Court to weigh in on whether voters must vote yes or no on the first question of the two-part recall ballot — should the lawmaker be recalled? — in order to vote on the second question as to who should replace them.

If the issue isn’t resolved ahead of the Sept. 10 elections, it leaves open the possibility that lawyers for the losing side could reasonably challenge the results.