Group has spent $55K on signatures to recall Morse

Politics

Laura Carno, whose group has spent $55,000 supporting the recall of Senate President John Morse, talks to FOX31 Denver on Monday.

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DENVER — Rob Harris, the Everyman from Colorado Springs who delivered three boxes of petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office Monday, insists he’s the driving force behind the effort to recall Senate President John Morse for his role in passing gun control legislation earlier this year.

But Harris is getting an awful lot of help — more than $55,000 over two months from a 501(c)4 group that doesn’t disclose its donors.

That money, disclosed in financial reports filed at the end of May, helps explain how Harris was able to turn in more than 16,000 signed petitions on Monday, more than twice the number he needs to force a recall election in El Paso County later this year.

The group, I Am Created Equal, spent about $42,500 last month with the El Paso Freedom Defense Committee, all of which went to Kennedy Enterprises, which paid people to collect signatures.

That’s on top of the $14,500 the group, founded last year by Laura Carno, spent on the recall in April.

“Many campaigns use paid signature gatherers on both sides of the aisle. This isn’t revolutionary that this was done,” Carno told FOX31 Denver on Monday. “With the Morse recall, this was a combination of paid signature gatherers and volunteer signature gatherers.”

Carno told FOX31 Denver on Tuesday that all of the money donated to her 501(c)4 group is from Colorado donors.

“It’s a mix of small and large contributions,” she said. “All of the money is 100 percent from Colorado.”

Some of the money donated to Carno’s 527 group, which spent $1,600 on a local radio ad last week, came from out-of-state donors.

Carno incorporated her groups in 2012.

Mario Nicolais, an attorney at the Hackstaff Law Group who is now a Republican candidate for state senate, did the paperwork.

Mark Hillman, Bob Beauprez and Shari Williams serve as her advisory board.

“They have advised me over the long-run on high-level strategy,” Carno said. “None of them have ever been involved in what money gets spent where.

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