The first bonafide photograph of a place where Colorado voters can sign a petition to recall Gov. Jared Polis–not requiring a time machine back to 2019, mind you, the 2020 Recall Polis campaign–was sent to us today from a street corner in Loveland:
That’s the only hard proof we’ve seen of any actual organizing for this latest effort, and the clock is ticking–every day these very fine people don’t collect at least 10,500 signatures (that’s 631,266 divided by 60 days), they’re falling behind the mark. We assume if there were thousands of people lining up in Loveland to sign the petition, they’d send a photo of that instead. And that’s not the worst part: a look at the Recall Polis 2020 “Find a Signing Location” page this afternoon contains a whole lot of nothing in terms of information for such populated places as Jefferson County:
The good news is, you can sign at the Otero County GOP office, conveniently located 180 miles from Denver:
We just looked through the entire “directory” of signing locations, and the only two listings in the entire state direct potential recall petition signers to the La Junta GOP office and a “Save the Republic” rally Saturday in Colorado Springs. If this campaign was serious, they would have been ready with signing locations across the state to follow up the press they received this week that their petition was approved for circulation–thus capitalizing on the less critical media attention these campaigns enjoy at the outset.
But much like the last Recall Polis campaign, we’re making a mistake if we’re presuming this is a serious effort. Any thinking Republican, of course, has no time to waste organizing a futile recall during the height of election season, when every available hand and resource needs to be focused on saving Republican candidates from another impending Democratic wave. If you’re working on this recall instead of helping Republicans who are on the ballot in November, you might as well be helping Democrats.
We’re pretty sure that doesn’t matter to them. So enjoy the distraction while it lasts.
Polling data continues to indicate that Colorado Republicans are in big trouble in 2020. But instead of organizing phone banks or fundraisers in the 50 days left before Election Day, a group of GOP activists have decided to hunker down and focus instead on trying to recall Gov. Jared Polis.
You may recall that in 2019, Republicans tried to recall a half-dozen different Democrats in Colorado. All of the recall attempts failed miserably — and we do mean miserably. The Colorado Republican Party supported these efforts to varying degrees before eventually calling for a full evacuation from Hurricane Recall. That message was apparently not received by some activists, as Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun:
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office on Monday approved the petition drafted by “Recall Polis 2020,” which is tied to at least one of the people behind the failed efforts last year to remove the Democrat from office.
The organization has 60 days — or until Nov. 13 — to collect 631,266 signatures to force a special election to decide whether or not Polis, who is halfway through his first term in office, should be recalled.
Thus far, the Recall Polis 2020 issue committee, formed on June 10, reports raising only about $4,000 in cash. Organizer Lori Ann Cutunelli, of Summit County, reported donating more than $7,300 to pay for drafting the petition wording and to make a downpayment on printing costs. Additionally, a GoFundMe campaign has raised about $7,600 from 275 donors.
If you’re still worried that this new Polis recall effort might be successful, go ahead and read this paragraph:
Greg Merschel, one of the people behind Resist Polis PAC — which Coloradans Against Polis was formerly known as — is listed as one of the organizing members of Recall Polis 2020.
We’d love to explain this better, but we’d need an entire office wall and two rolls of red string to map out the lunacy in full.
Before she was “Q*Bert,” Lauren Boebert collected Recall Polis petitions at her Rifle restaurant.
The “Resist Polis” campaign eventually held a comical press conference outside of the State Capitol in Denver, where several plastic boxes full of “petition signatures” were piled up on the West Steps as proof that “Resist Polis” did a thing. Organizers claimed to have collected more than 300,000 signatures, though they refused to submit their bounty to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for verification. We can at least confirm that some of the boxes definitely contained pieces of paper.
Confusion about the recall Polis efforts persisted until the very end. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, now the Republican nominee for Congress in CO-3, literally drove across the state so that she could be there in person when the recall petitions were (not) submitted.
When Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was asked about the recall efforts last summer, he was perplexed that Republicans would be spending time and resources focusing on work that was completely unrelated to the upcoming 2020 election. As The Denver Post reported in July 2019:
Even the state’s highest-ranking Republican officeholder, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, danced around the question when asked about the Polis recall.
“You know what, we gotta focus all we can on winning in 2020; getting our congressional seats back, getting our state legislature back … ,” Gardner said at a recent Republican Party event in El Paso County. “That’s where I’m at. You may agree or disagree, but boy I think we gotta get our nuts and bolts together so that we can win.”
Gardner wasn’t necessarily opposed to the idea of trying to recall Polis; he was more concerned that organizers were diverting the attention of volunteers and donors when the GOP really needed them for the actual upcoming election. This was definitely a problem for Republicans in 2019, but in 2020 it’s an outright disaster.
In a political fundraising email sent yesterday, statehouse Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) underreported the number of Coloradans hospitalized with coronavirus by half. He claims “fewer than 900 people” have had hospital stays, but publicly available state data put the total at over 2,000.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updates and publishes COVID-19 related data daily online.
Neville’s email asks for donations to fight “the Polis Police State and his leftist propaganda media.”
“Nearly 300,000 Colorado residents are out of work and struggling to provide for their families, while less than 900 people statewide have been hospitalized with Coronavirus.
…Take Back Colorado is fighting to reopen Colorado and get people back to work, but we’re up against the Polis Police State and his leftist media propaganda machine that wants every Colorado resident to be entirely beholden to the Government.
I know times are tough, but your DONATION right now will help us take our fight to reopen Colorado directly to every resident who is fed up with the Polis lockdown and wants to get back to work….
Rep. Pat Neville”[emphasis added]
Neville sent the email just after midday Tuesday, so it’s possible the totals on the state’s COVID-19 website weren’t yet updated. Even if that was the case, the previous day’s total listed 1,880 hospitalizations.
After the failure of last year’s half-baked recall attempt against Gov. Jared Polis, which limped across the finish line with at most half the required number of signatures need even without factoring for error, one of the two groups nominally dedicated to the recall effort became a headline-making controversy after doling out thousands of dollars in unspent donations to a few original organizers and “friends.” This was particularly offensive to donors since the committee in question, the “Official” Recall Polis committee, publicly disparaged the petition campaign to recall Polis and spent no money on the effort.
When we last heard from the registered agent for the “Official” Recall Polis committee Juli-Andra Feuntes, she was facing potential legal action from the Donald Trump presidential campaign after renaming the committee “Colorado For Trump”–to which Fuentes responded by making an acronym of T-R-U-M-P, which now stands for “Truth will Restore the republic and Unbiased Media gives Power to the people.”
That bizarre report from last October was the last word we’ve had about the “Official” Recall Polis campaign and the recipients of that moribund committee’s loose change, until this week when a budding conflict on a new-ish conservative Facebook group named “Make CO Red Again” was brought to our attention:
Readers will recall that Renee McGill, the Weld County lead organizer for the “Official” Recall Polis Committee, pulled down a $3,000 check from the unspent donations to the committee. McGill is now the administrator of the Make CO Red Again Facebook group. Obviously, given the failure of the Polis recall and the controversy over the money McGill was “gifted,” she should expect to have hurdles to overcome in future political organizing roles.
And she’s not the only one!
The moderator of the Make CO Red Again Facebook is a man our longtime readers know very well: Nate Marshall, a one-time Republican state house candidate whose 2014 run for office against Democratic Rep. Max Tyler imploded after Marshall’s not-so secret online life as an unabashed neo-Nazi became public. Marshall had been allegedly recruited to run against Rep. Tyler by former state Sen. Tim Neville, and was backed by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) at the party assembly. When it came out in remarkably similar fashion to the recent outing of a neo-Nazi working at local AM radio station 710 KNUS that Marshall was steeling himself for an “Aryan Revolution” that “begins in just over 40 hours,” the chair of the Jefferson County GOP demanded Marshall pull out of the race.
So if by this point you’re thinking that this is not a Facebook group respectable Republicans should ever want to be a member of, we’d say that’s an astute observation. It is therefore a bit perplexing to understand why…so many…Colorado Republicans…are members of Nate Marshall’s Facebook group:
This is it: The final episode of 2019 for TheGet More Smarter Podcast. To close out the year, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the most important Colorado political stories of 2019 and look ahead to 2020 with some bold predictions. Will Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate in 2020? Can Sen. Cory Gardner win re-election? Which one of Colorado’s seven Congressional seats could flip next year?
And for the first time, Jason plays America’s worst favorite game, “Duke or Donald.” Ian is the current record-holder in the game that nobody really wins, but can Jason take the title in the last episode of 2019?
(The Force will not necessarily be with you – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Colorado’s recall leaders aren’t calling it quits, they’re just rebranding and expanding.
Today, the Resist Polis PAC, which claimed to have collected hundreds of thousands of signatures but didn’t turn in any, re-launched as Colorado Freedom Force, with renamed Facebook groups and a new website complete with a new donation page. Divisions between the various recall entities, however, are presenting challenges for the new group’s organizing and fundraising plans.
On October 4, Korry Lewis, spokesperson and filing agent for Resist Polis PAC’s failed gubernatorial recall group and daughter of state Rep. Kimmie Lewis (R-Kim), filed articles of incorporation for a new 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the “Colorado Freedom Force.”
Resist Polis PAC has rebranded its regional chapter Facebook groups and shared the new website on each page, encouraging supporters to join the new email list and donate anonymously:
“Today, the most important step you can take is to join our force by adding your name. Join the Force – Click Here. This is the very best way to stay up to date with what’s going on in Colorado.
The second most important step would be to chip in to our cause. As a 501(c)4 organization, your contribution will remain anonymous, and there is no limit as to how much you can give.”
In the statewide Facebook group, several commenters expressed skepticism, questioning the group’s purpose and noting that they felt like their previous donations had been wasted. Lewis pushed back, asking to which of the two Polis recall groups the commenters had contributed money and specifying CFF’s anticipated activities.
According to Lewis, the CFF will organize in a variety of ways:
“Colorado Freedom Force is essentially a grassroots army of people throughout Colorado who are willing to take action to protect their freedoms. That may be through signature-gathering efforts (initiatives, referendums, or recalls), testifying at the Capitol, or educating voters about candidates and ballot measures.”
In addition to serving as the filing agent for Resist Polis PAC, Lewis coordinated the group’s half-hearted recall efforts against Colorado state senators. She solicited donations on behalf of all three recalls: Governor Polis, Sen. Brittany Pettersen, (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs).
(Got traction? Get answers – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Sen. Cory Gardner is in Washington, D.C. today, but at least two members of his staff are holding a public meeting here in Colorado.
State director Andy Merritt and Regional Director Steve Emmen are scheduled to give a legislative update over lunch from noon to 2:00 PM today at the Spring Valley Golf Course east of Castle Rock.
Spring Valley Golf Club is located in the town of Elizabeth, which is currently the only place in Colorado still embroiled in political recalls. It’s also the only recall effort in the state that managed to collect enough signatures to put the question to the ballot.
Last Thursday, officials determined that recall proponents turned in enough valid signatures to move ahead with recall votes for the Mayor and all six town trustees.
Back in April, Gardner applauded Congressman Ken Buck’s rallying cry to Colorado Republicans that they would teach Democrats to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.
The Elizabeth Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event, which is free and anyone can RSVP. As of 10:00 AM, the luncheon is taking place as scheduled.
The invitation doesn’t list specific topics, but there is one question Gardner’s office has consistently refused to answer over the past three weeks: Is it appropriate for the president to ask a foreign government to investigate his political opponent? And while the senator still hasn’t answered that specific question, Gardner’s office did find time to release a statement decrying the House’s impeachment inquiry as a “political circus,” a term his fellow Republicans have used recently to describe Colorado recalls. 9News’ Steve Staeger noted this in a recent broadcast.
Considering that his office is holding a public meeting in the one town in Colorado still involved in such a circus, it might be a good time to ask his office to clarify his position.
That’s what the Resist Polis PAC, the organization that just wrapped up the humiliating failure of a recall petition drive against Gov. Jared Polis, allegedly netting less than half the required total and never turning in any signatures to how for sure, is telling supporters on Facebook. Stay tuned! These folks are about to (their words) “shake up Colorado Politics forever!” This time they we’re being asked to believe they mean it, unlike the Polis recall that didn’t shake up much of anything. You can sign up to get the big news first, and be assured gentle readers that this time,
Colorado Politics will never be the same again. [Pols emphasis]
Are you excited? Because we’re excited.
The possibilities stretch the imagination, don’t they? At least as much as the “summer of recalls” stretched and eventually busted wide open the bounds of credulity! Tell us what you think the next move for the once-vaunted Recall Polis PAC will be via the poll below.
For best accuracy, aim low.
What will the big announcement from the Recall Polis PAC be?
This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii ponder attempts by Republican Party Chairman Ken Buck to distance the GOP from their recall failures; discuss GOP troubles with continuing to defend President Trump; break down another harsh editorial calling on Sen. Cory Gardner to resign from office; and consider where to start building a wall in Colorado. Later in the show, Ian plays “Duke or Donald” with guest contestant Fawn Bolack, co-founder of “Keep Abortion Safe.”
A week after the spectacular failure of the last of the recall campaigns from Colorado Republicans, launched against several individual Democratic legislators and Gov. Jared Polis over the summer, the Denver Post’sAlex Burnesscircled back with Republican leaders for a post-mortem look at what went wrong–Republicans who were willing to return his calls, that is, because evidently many were not.
It’s not easy to capture to full magnitude of the failure for Colorado Republicans without resorting to language that seems hyperbolic, but objectively is not an exaggeration of any kind. After the 2018 elections resulted in an historic bloodbath for the Colorado GOP–destroying their gubernatorial candidate, wiping out the GOP’s hold on the attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer’s office ,and losing their only remaining legislative majority–Republicans in this state faced a hard choice: to learn the lessons dwindling moderates in their midst were begging them to learn and fundamentally change course, or embrace a future where all the elections look like 2018.
As we now know, Colorado Republicans chose the latter.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R).
This infamous clip of now-state GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck promising to make Democrats “learn how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L,” cheered on by the state’s highest ranking Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, has become a major embarrassment for the party leadership now that the recalls have failed. The recalls did not fail narrowly, but failed calamitously with juicy attendant details like the conservative operative class in the state glomming on to the cash flow and “gifts” of thousands of dollars to individuals after the campaign had already failed. Any way you look at what happened–from building donor confidence to mobilizing the base to credibility with the media–this summer was another unprecedented disaster for Colorado Republicans on par with their electoral defeats last November.
So we can’t claim to be surprised to see, as the Post’s Alex Burness reports today, Colorado Republicans making absurd excuses to deflect responsibility. Defeat, as they say, is an orphan:
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, the Colorado GOP chair, told The Denver Post on Friday that the recall failures don’t fall on him in any way. [Pols emphasis]
“I didn’t cast any net,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in the grassroots … who went after legislators. I didn’t direct any recall effort.”
When he was elected to lead the state party on the fourth ballot in March, Buck promised to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” Now, though, he claims he did not endorse the concept of mass recalls in Colorado.
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).
Buck’s cowardly denial of any responsibility for recalls he ran for the chair of the state party promising to support is an indicator of just how thoroughly weak and disorganized Republicans are as the last days of October 2019 come to a close. Practically from the moment Democrats visited historic destruction on Republicans in last November’s elections, Republicans had threatened retaliation via recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Nevilleopenly threatened his Democratic colleagues with recalls during this year’s legislative session. Republican operatives criss-crossed the state spreading the gospel of recalls as a way to “reweight the electorate,” and score victories that are now out of reach in general elections.
History will likely record that the attempted recall of Rep. Tom Sullivan, a freshman Democrat whose advocacy for gun safety is rooted in his son’s tragic murder in the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting, is the moment where the GOP’s recall strategy went off the rails for good. Ironically, this is the recall attempt that Colorado Republicans are most obliged to take ownership of, since it was initiated by Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown personally. Attempts to recast Brown’s action as “personal” after the Sullivan recall was clearly doing more harm than good simply have no credibility.
Cole Wist, a Republican who lost his house seat to Sullivan in 2018 — and who publicly bashed the Sullivan recall effort — said there is an important distinction to be made between staying out of recalls and actively condemning them.
“I didn’t see one elected Republican speak out against it,” he said. “The state party needs to own this failure.[Pols emphasis] They stirred the pot, and when they could see that the strategy wasn’t going to work, they didn’t speak up. They retreated and disappeared while rank-and-file members of the party floundered and were exploited by political consultants.”
When exactly high-ranking Republicans belatedly realized that the recalls were going to fail is irrelevant. The fact is that top Republicans kept up appearances of support for the recalls very late in the game, such as when Sen. Cory Gardner told recall organizers in Pueblo at the end of August that “I’ve never said I was against recalls” about sixty seconds after telling Senate President Leroy Garcia “I’m kind of sorry that this is happening.” For rank-and-file Republicans, any emotional (not to mention financial) investment made in these recalls has been a tremendously demoralizing experience.
And above all, while Democrats have been organizing like it’s an election year to oppose the recalls, the GOP spun its wheels throughout this whole critical off-year when they should have been preparing for the 2020 general election. When all is said and done this could be the most damning of the many indictments against Rep. Ken Buck’s absentee leadership of the party while still trying to serve in Congress, and with the greatest long-term impact. Here we are a year after the 2018 Democratic wave, and Colorado Republicans have totally squandered the backlash they hoped to foment as Democrats carried out the agenda they promised voters. There are many mistakes to point out, but there are no excuses. This was the strategy Republicans chose.
Cory Gardner, Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Pat Neville, the Colorado GOP as an organization.
For Colorado Republicans who really want this nightmare to end, the housecleaning starts there.
Colorado Public Radio’sTaylor Allenreports from yesterday’s well-deserved “victory lap” press conference by Senate President Leroy Garcia, after the recall campaign against him collapsed in a heap at the end of last week:
Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia on Thursday said he’s looking forward to the new legislative session — especially after surviving a recall effort to oust him…
Garcia was one of the six legislators who was the target of ousters during what he calls “the summer of recalls.”
“[It] spotlighted Colorado in a way that we wanted to be spotlighted in,” Garcia said. “And it’s sad to say that some Republicans took Colorado to a new low.”
“Quasi-newsman”Joey Bunch of the Colorado Springs Gazette does what he can to lessen the blow for the GOP:
“It’s no secret Republicans struggled with the new majority, and quite frankly, I would argue, with the reality,” Garcia said. “Some reverted to political shenanigans, in addition to endless temper tantrums.”
He called the recalls a tactic that was better left to Washington politics. Garcia didn’t say it, but the notable difference is that in Washington, it’s Democrats trying to oust Republican President Donald Trump via impeachment.
It’s difficult to see how impeachment “whataboutism” helps Republicans look any better after the once-balleyhooed “summer of recalls”–especially since a majority of Coloradans support impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in the most recent poll, and unlike the recalls Trump is increasingly likely to actually be impeached. Beyond that, the moral difference between the failed Colorado recall attempts based on wild misinformation and Trump’s impeachment over serious abuses of foreign policy for political gain are fundamental enough to make the comparison absurd.
On the other hand, the Denver Posttook a very different approach to the end of “recall season”–apologizing for their role in hyping what turned out to be a toothless threat from the Garcia recall organizers. Here’s reporter Alex Burness and politics editor Cindi Andrews commendably leveling with Post readers:
Reporters hate being lied to. But it does happen — pretty often, actually — and we are constantly sharing newsworthy statements we have no way to verify. We make sure to attribute these statements to the speakers, so they are not confused for verified facts…
With the previous recall efforts, organizers dropped their efforts when it was evident they wouldn’t have enough signatures — they didn’t go to the trouble of delivering near-empty boxes. We work very hard to avoid being conduits for false information, knowing we can’t always control that.
But we can reflect. And, as the grifters found out, lying to honest reporters doesn’t pay. They’ve permanently damaged their credibility, and their Budweiser-box display in Denver may have done long-term damage to their movement back home. The chair of the Pueblo County GOP told me Wednesday she wishes the organizers had just stayed home. [Pols emphasis]
Looking back not just at the failed Garcia recall but at every one of the attempts launched by Republicans to exact opportunistic revenge for 2018’s devastating losses, it’s clear that the credibility damage from these months of wasted time and money should extend well beyond the two amateur sideshow freaks who delivered the Garcia recall campaign’s four signatures. The Colorado Republican Party’s entire leadership elected this year cheered on and even helped organize the most optically disastrous of the recalls. House Minority Leader Patrick Nevilleraised money for his family political operation on the pretense of recalling his Democratic colleagues.
Leroy Garcia may be taking the high road, but Republicans still have much to answer for.
► The senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine sat before a Congressional committee on Tuesday and apparently provided “damning” testimony as part of an impeachment investigation into President Trump. From the Associated Press:
Former U.S. Ambassador William Taylor, a diplomat who has sharply questioned President Donald Trump’s policy on Ukraine, has provided lawmakers with a “disturbing” account of events at the center of the impeachment probe , Democrats said Tuesday.
Lawmakers emerging after the early hours of the private deposition said Taylor had given a lengthy opening statement, with a recall of events that filled in gaps from the testimony of other witnesses. They said Taylor kept records at the time of conversations and documents.
“The testimony is very disturbing,” said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., used the same word. Asked why, he said, “Because it’s becoming more distinct.”
Taylor’s appearance is among the most watched because of a text message, released by House investigators earlier in the probe, in which he called Trump’s attempt to leverage military aid to Ukraine in return for a political investigation “crazy.”
As Aaron Blake writes for The Washington Post, it’s now “every man for himself” in terms of Republicans and their continued support for President Trump.
► Some Democrats think that impeachment proceedings might take longer than initially expected — in large part because witness testimony continues to reveal new concerns. From CNN:
“Every time we have a deposition, it leads us in a slightly different direction,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who sits on the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, two of the three panels leading the investigation, said Monday. “We don’t know how many additional pieces of testimony we may need. We just don’t know.”
The challenge facing Democrats: They want to conduct a thorough investigation, but prolonging the probe will continue to consume Washington — and risks bumping into the presidential election season if proceedings drag into the new year.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who is leading the probe, both have refused to put a specific timeframe on the investigation.
► The editorial board of the Pueblo Chieftain smashed a failed effort to recall Senate President Leroy Garcia:
Dave DeCenzo, a volunteer for the recall effort, said more signatures were collected, but the group didn’t want to reveal them for fear the signers might be “doxxed” — that is, have their private information revealed on the internet.
To butcher Shakespeare, wethinks he dox protest too much. If the group had produced enough signatures to qualify a recall for the ballot, then those names would have become a matter of public record, anyway. So this alleged concern for the privacy of the petitioners sounds suspiciously like a convenient cover story to mask the group’s failure.
And we’re glad the group’s efforts not only failed, but failed so spectacularly. We can laugh about this now that it’s over, but what the anti-Garcia group was attempting to do was no joke.
Garcia was elected to a new term in office just last year with a commanding three-fourths of the total votes cast. Between the time he was re-elected and the recall campaign was launched, he did nothing that was inconsistent with his stated beliefs or campaign promises.
An editorial in the Colorado Springs Gazette on Monday opened with a familiar lede: “No money could buy for Colorado Democrats the gift Republicans handed them in 2019.”
► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has always said that he would not take positions on state issues because of his status as a federal elected official. So, naturally, Gardner wrote an Op-Ed opposing Proposition CC that ran in the Colorado Springs Gazette.
► Don’t miss the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast and find out if you can do better at “Duke or Donald” than our guest contestant.
This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii tie a bow on the season of failed recall attempts; discuss the idea that any Democrat could defeat Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020; and Ian plays “Duke or Donald” with guest contestant Manny Lopez Del Rio, Director of Campaigns at ProgressNow Colorado.
Since last Friday’s unforgettable moment at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office as two…well, rustic looking gentlemen arrived from Pueblo to turn in a total of four signatures in support of a recall against Senate President Leroy Garcia–just a few signatures short of the required minimum 13,506–there’s been a lot of chatter about what exactly happened down in Pueblo over the last 60 days. Who was in charge of collecting signatures? What happened to all the money they raised? Why did the campaign tell us early last week that they were “on track?”
And above all, why the hell would they put four signatures in two Budweiser boxes?
There’s a good possibility that the answers to all of these questions will get thrown in the dustbin of history along with the rest of the Colorado GOP’s failed recall attempts and the colorful characters who made them impossible not to watch. We mean that of course in the train wreck sense, not entertainment you’d ever put yourself through voluntarily.
With all of this in mind, many readers were especially captivated by Dave DeCenzo, the Garcia recall organizer who as it turns out egregiously misled the Colorado political press corps early last week into reporting that the recall was going well. Marching into the Secretary of State’s office Friday with his two signatures in a Budweiser box, DeCenzo cut a remarkable, not what you’d exactly call dashing pose. And with Halloween fast approaching, some of our readers will find DeCenzo’s look to be the perfect costume! Here’s a Steal This Look guide we were forwarded for dressing like a Colorado recall pro:
If The Post had information Tuesday to confirm the claim of the recall campaign’s likely success (trusted sources, evidence of signatures gathered), then you could justify a story about imminent success. That would be good journalism. But such information did not exist.
Instead, The Post apparently simply regurgitated the claim, which lead CO PeakPolitics, a conservative blog, to gloat that Garcia had “arrogantly predicted” that voters had “no appetite” for a recall election. Oops.
The blog removed its post after the four-signature truth came out Friday, saying that no amount of correcting could have salvaged its story.
The Post left its piece in place, which was the right thing to do, and it now serves as a reminder that the shrill and unverified utterances or screams of small numbers of credibility-challenged discontents and their backers, while deserving of respect, shouldn’t dominate the news or certainly a news cycle, whether it’s at the beginning of a failed recall campaign or at the end of one.
This is especially true given that recall proponents demonstrated repeatedly that they weren’t credible.
House Republican Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock announced with gun extremist Dudley Brown that recalls against state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D-Greenwood Village) and state Rep. Meg Froelich (D-Englewood) were coming. They weren’t.
Backed by Brown and Neville, Colorado Republican Party Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown launched a recall of state Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora) on May 13. She dropped it less than a month later. The Colorado Politics story reporting on the Sullivan recall included this line:
Republicans and their conservative allies have said they plan to launch a dozen or so recalls against Democrats.
This also did not happen.
Organizers of the statewide recall efforts aimed at Colorado Gov. Jared Polis were similarly factually challenged. One group, calling itself the “Official” Polis Recall, never even pulled recall petitions. Donors were furious and demanded refunds. Rather than return the tens of thousands of dollars, however, leaders simply moved donors’ money from account to account before giving it… to themselves.
UPDATE #4: Here’s the official word from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office:
You are reading this correctly.
UPDATE #3: Via Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, the “Summer of Recalls” ends with even less of a whimper than first reported:
Proponents for the petition to recall @Leroy_Garcia submitted signatures for review earlier today. The petition contained 4 signatures. To be sufficient, 13,506 valid signatures are required. Therefore the petition is insufficient. #copolitics#coleg
Four signatures. We could not have imagined in our wildest dreams a more pathetic waste of time.
UPDATE #2: Colorado Democratic Party chair Morgan Carroll’sstatement:
“The people of Colorado spoke loud and clear, and sent a message to the sore losers and con artists running these sham recalls — they don’t want their 2018 decisions to be overturned. The voters of these districts chose dedicated public servants — like Puebloan and Marine veteran Leroy Garcia — because they knew these state Senators and Representatives would fight for Colorado values at the State Capitol. The fact Colorado Republican Party chair Ken Buck kicked off his term as chair by promising to ‘teach Democrats how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L’ shows just how out of touch leadership in the Colorado GOP really is.”
“It’s incredibly vindicating that these desperate attempts by the Republicans were rejected so decisively. Now, Colorado can continue to move forward and our Democratic legislators can get back to doing the work of the people without interference from these cynical distractions.”
UPDATE: The Denver Post’sheadline captures the magnitude of the failure succinctly:
The 0.009% has spoken!
Photo courtesy Colorado Times Recorder
That’s the word from the Colorado Sun’sJesse Paul–the “summer of recalls” is officially over:
Friday was the deadline by which they had to turn in 13,506 valid signatures from voters in the Pueblo Democrat’s Senate District 3.
The campaign says they will turn in some signatures, but that the amount will not be sufficient to force a special recall election.
And this positively wacky update from reporter Marianne Goodland:
Recall organizers turned in about 120 signatures to recall @Leroy_Garcia instead of the 13,506 required by law. Volunteer Dave DeCenzo said they are not turning in the rest for fear of intimidation. @colo_politics#coleg#copolitics
We’ll have many more updates as they come in–but keep in mind that in recent days there was at least some expressed hope from Republican usual suspects of a surprise in the recall petition drive against Senate President Leroy Garcia, driven in part by the head start afforded them by the 2013 recall list still in their possession.
Obviously, that didn’t work out, but they were still trying to bullshit their way forward as recently as this morning:
Republican organizers seeking to recall state Senate President Leroy Garcia have just arrived at the Secretary of State’s Office to return petitions. They need 13,506 to force a recall election. They say they have no idea how many signatures are in these boxes. pic.twitter.com/MNktJpiEV5
“They say they have no idea how many signatures are in these boxes.” Can they not count past 100?
With this final ignominious end to the last of the once-feared campaign of recall retaliation by Republicans convinced that the 2018 landslide victory for Democrats in Colorado was a fluke, the Republican leadership who backed and, in the case of the disastrous recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan principally organized these failed recalls have now wrecked their own credibility and demoralized the Republican base. Colorado Republicans next have to reckon with a lost year of failure that has left them weakened and disorganized ahead of what is shaping up to be another historic wave year for Democrats.
We wish we could tell Republicans this is the bottom. It probably isn’t.
Today is the deadline for Republicans to submit petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in their efforts to recall Senate President Leroy Garcia. Organizers of the Garcia recall have hinted that they may actually submit signatures today, rather than just letting the deadline pass with a sheepish admission of failure; given the 2019 track record of Republican recall efforts, you have every right to be skeptical of any announcement.
Readers of Colorado Pols are well aware that the various recall attempts of Democratic elected officials that we’ve seen over the past few months have been largely about grifting — using “organizing” efforts to convince poor conservative saps to sign over their social security checks (quite literally). Some recall donors did come to realize that their money was basically being set on fire, but there’s not a lot of recourse for someone hoping to recoup money that disappeared into coffers overseen by self-identified “board members” like Juli-Andra Fuentes.
Fuentes, you may recall, was one of the main public faces of the “Official Recall Jared Polis” organization that didn’t even bother collecting petition signatures and crapped all over attempts by a different Polis recall group to actually attempt a real recall effort. About $30,000 raised by Fuentes’ group was “donated” to another invented organization called “Colorado for Trump,” which seemed to be largely about Fuentes trying to force President Trump to call her personally (you can’t make this stuff up).
Kyle Clark of 9News has kept an eye on the transactions of the “Official Recall Jared Polis” group and their band of gypsies. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the tale just keeps getting weirder:
CLARK: We continue to track the money raised for the recall of Democratic Governor Jared Polis. The “Official” recall group never attempted a recall, but it kept the money; gave thousands of dollars to its leadership as gifts; then reclassified the money as “consulting fees” when we asked about it. But that’s not even the strangest part.
Almost $30,000 in donations meant to recall Gov. Polis was instead shifted to a new political committee called “Colorado for Trump.” It’s run by the same woman who ran the failed recall group, Juli-Andra Fuentes. The Trump campaign is upset — says it has no association with her group [and] even threatened legal action. Fuentes has told me the President should call her personally.
But now Fuentes has changed her group’s purpose with the Secretary of State’s office. It says the word “Trump” is actually the initials T-R-U-M-P. Says that it stands for “Truth will Restore the republic and Unbiased Media gives Power to the people.”…
…At least we know what happens when a recall fails and the donations land in another bank account. They go, “TWRTRUMGPTTP.”
This is funny…if it isn’t your money.
As we’ve discussed before in this space, there are several downsides to the year of Recall-palooza for Republicans. The 2020 election is just around the corner, and all of this griftiness will undoubtedly make it harder for GOP candidates and staffers to raise money and find volunteers for legitimate campaigns.
For example, as Joey Bunch reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, two notable Colorado Republicans have started a new online platform with the hopes of connecting like-minded conservatives that requires some stringent security measures. Former State Rep. Matt Knoedler and longtime GOP operative Allen Fuller (who is also Bob Beauprez’s son-in-law) are the minds behind “CaucusRoom,” which sounds kind of like a cross between MySpace and the NextDoor app. Knoedler and Fuller say their platform will encourage conservatives to organize online and find like-minded neighbors, but this is the their number one selling point: “Bank-level verification of all members to weed out bots and fake accounts.”
Every CaucusRoom user goes through a verification process that requires more information than other social networks. This allows us to ensure the friends and neighbors you interact with on CaucusRoom are truly your friends and neighbors, and helps to keep out bots and those who are not interested in being positive members of our community…
…In order to verify all of our users are real people (no bots or fake accounts!), we require that each user enters complete and accurate information when they sign up. This includes your full name, home address (no P.O. boxes please!) and your real birthdate. [Pols emphasis]
We have no reason to suspect that “CaucusRoom” won’t keep your personal information secure and that your name won’t show up on some weird list in six months, but after all the lies and grifting associated with Republican recall efforts, we’d absolutely think twice about signing up for something like this. That might not be fair to Knoedler and Fuller, but that’s what happens when Republicans let these wacky recall efforts go unchecked.
If you signed your name to a recall petition in the last 6 months, there’s no telling what actually happened to that information (it didn’t get submitted to the Secretary of State, we know that much). If you made a donation to one of these recall efforts, there’s a very good chance that your money went into somebody else’s pocket for purposes that had nothing to do with recalling anyone. If you are a Republican trying to organize for other campaigns and goals heading into 2020, everything you do is tainted by the recall nonsense.
Elections have consequences, and so do recalls — even when they fail.
As readers know, all of the recall attempts initiated by Colorado Republicans in retaliation for last year’s landslide victories for Democrats in this state have fizzled except one: the recall petition due later this month against Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo, the immediate successor to ex-Sen. Angela Giron who was successfully recalled in the fall of 2013.
By all accounts, that ain’t happening again in 2019. Everything we’ve heard from Pueblo is that the signature drive against Garcia has flatlined much like the failed campaigns against Sens. Brittany Pettersen and Pete Lee, Gov. Jared Polis, and the particularly ill-fated recall attempt against freshman Rep. Tom Sullivan–whose advocacy for gun safety legislation after his son was killed in the Aurora shooting made him an audacious but in the end self-injurious target for Colorado Republicans.
But as we learned with the failed but financially lucrative Recall Polis drive, success isn’t the only objective! Not when there’s cold hard cash to be made along the way by all those friendly and super “helpful” for-profit political consultants–consultants who get paid win or lose. And sure enough, in the Committee to Recall Leroy Garcia’s latest fundraising report, you’ll find big line-items for consultants:
Recall Garcia started the reporting period with $2,378 on hand, and reported $4,429 raised, $4,844 spent, with $1,962 cash remaining on hand. Given the pitiful amount of money we’re talking about here, it’s fascinating to see that the biggest expenditure, over $1,700, is for “fundraising consultants!” That suggests to us that the return on investment was…rather poor.
But at least as interesting to us is the $1,200 paid to Ben Engen of Constellation Political Strategies, the young Republican operative who became infamous as the “Johnny Appleseed of recalls” after a video surfaced of Engen very frankly admitting to a GOP audience that recalls were about a “re-weighting of the electorate”–giving Republicans the chance to sneak otherwise unobtainable wins via a recall “that just comes out of nowhere and blindsides” Democrats.
In the end, it’s Republicans who got burned by “recall season.” But for the for-profit side of Republican politics, the checks still cashed. And that’s all that matters.
The headline appeared at the Grand Junction Sentinel yesterday, bold face and ominous:
Gov. Jared Polis (D).
Followed by a story that might make what’s known in the business as “low-information voters” think that oh yes indeedy, Gov. Jared Polis remains in political hot water despite this summer’s failed attempt to place a recall question on the ballot:
The majority of those surveyed feel the recent efforts to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis will have a meaningful impact on state politics, according to a poll on gjsentinel.com.
Efforts to recall Polis dominated the state’s political landscape this summer, but the groups gathering signatures ultimately fell well short of the 631,266 valid signatures required.
Slightly more than 65% of respondents affirmed the recall efforts, with 289 saying that it represented a large segment of the voting population. Others felt it sets the stage for further recall efforts (153) and sends a message to the governor (91).
Skeptical yet? You should be, because in the 5th paragraph a crucial detail is added below the fold:
Daily Sentinel polls are open-access and do not meet the criteria to be considered true scientific polls. [Pols emphasis]
That’s right, folks–although the Daily Sentinel is a legitimate news outlet that generally adheres to mutually accepted journalistic standards, this is a story about an online poll published on the Sentinel’s website. The respondents to the poll are self-selected visitors of the website. Basically the exact opposite a reliable cross-section of public opinion, online “polls” can be skewed simply by promoting the poll to an audience likely to vote a certain way. Even without deliberate manipulation there’s nothing to establish the poll’s respondents as representative of anything.
We also put up online polls from time to time, which are similarly unscientific and open to manipulation by anyone who cares enough about a poll on our blog to do it. The difference is that we would never represent such a poll as anything more than a discussion item for our readers. When you see a headline on this blog reporting the results of a “poll,” it’s an actual poll conducted with transparent standards and methodology.
With President Donald Trump Tweeting out the similarly absurd “results” of online polls at the hard-right propaganda website Breitbart News, it’s more important than ever that legitimate news organizations draw a bright white line between credible surveys of public opinion and garbage data with no credibility whatsoever.
For the Grand Junction Sentinel, that means never, ever writing a headline as misleading as this one again.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck will seek reelection to his congressional seat next year, the Windsor Republican said Wednesday, dispelling any speculation that he was planning to give up the seat.
“I have been running for this position and I will continue to,” Buck, who is in his third term, told The Colorado Sun.
The confirmation comes as several high-profile members of the Republican Party were considering campaigns for Buck’s 4th Congressional District seat if he decided not to run for another term. The potential contenders included 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, who fell short in his 2018 bid to become Colorado attorney general, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and state House GOP leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock.
Speculation about Rep. Ken Buck’s next move exploded over the summer, as national conservative “news” sources like Newsmax confirmed rumors we had been hearing that Buck was moving toward retirement from his ultra-safe CD-4 congressional seat–and prospective successors jockeying for pre-position like repeat GOP loser George Brauchler and embattled House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.
Rep. Buck’s “moonlighting” as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, a job he narrowly won last spring and then immediately raised eyebrows by appointing former party chair Steve House as “CEO” to run day-to-day while Buck continues to serve in Washington–a job House has now ditched to run for CD-6–is creating significant discord among the party’s involved membership and (more importantly) donor base. A petition campaign of state party central committee members is underway to oust Buck from his party position, and confirmation that Buck intends to continue splitting his attention between these two demanding jobs may only increase calls for him to pick one.
Since Buck took over the state party promising to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L,” all Republicans in Colorado have managed is a series of failed recall attempts that have devastated the morale of the rank-and-file. Buck’s failure to prevent the vice chair of the party Kristi Burton Brown from “personally” filing the ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan indelibly linked the official state party apparatus to the recalls.
With all of this in mind, if Buck decides that he wants another term as CD-4’s representative in Congress, there’s little we can see standing in his way as of this writing. As for the mess Buck has made of the Colorado Republican Party trying to do two jobs?
Six months after shouting that new legislative drilling regulations were an existential threat to their industry in Colorado, the state’s oil and gas producers are now whispering a different message to Wall Street:
No big deal.
The law was billed by both supporters and opponents as a sea change in how the industry is policed, giving local governments and state agencies greater authority to decide where and how drilling can occur. But in filings with the federal Security and Exchange Commission, some of Colorado’s largest drillers now express confidence that they can easily navigate the regulations spinning out of Senate Bill 19-181.
“We do not foresee significant changes to our development plans, as we have all necessary approvals of more than 550 permits to drill wells over the next several years,” Noble Energy representatives wrote to investors.
During the long debate in the Colorado General Assembly this year over Senate Bill 19-181, the landmark reform bill changing the relationship between state oil and gas regulators in the industry from “promotion” of more drilling to the protection of public health and safety first and foremost, the oil and gas industry’s PR armies warned of historic doom and gloom for Colorado’s economy. It would be nearly impossible, and we surely don’t have time to do it ourselves, to list out every time a Republican lawmaker or oil and gas industry press flack claimed with absolutely zero factual basis that SB-181 would “shut down oil and gas production in Colorado.”
The gospel-truth assumption that SB-181 was intended to and would speedily bring about the shutdown of oil and gas drilling in Colorado helped fuel the wave of irrational anger that Republicans deliberately sought to inflame during and after the 2019 legislative session, for the purpose of justifying recall attempts against opportune state legislative targets as well as Gov. Jared Polis. In Greeley, a town heavily dominated by oil and gas-friendly politics and politicians, the supposed threat of SB-181 ripping the local oil and gas industry apart provided cover to the attempt to recall now ex-Rep. Rochelle Galindo via a far nastier anti-LGBT “whisper campaign.”
But then a funny thing happened. Word started to leak out that despite all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over SB-181’s impending destruction, SB-181 wasn’t going to destroy the oil and gas industry at all. Energy producers started quietly telling their investors that they had all the permits they need for years of unhindered operations and were prepared to work with the new law’s additional protections. The gap between dire forecast and reality with regard to SB-181 isn’t the only reason the “summer of recalls” have sputtered out one after another in recent weeks, but it’s just not possible to maintain the level of public backlash required to pull off a recall without something to substantiate the allegations.
So the next time–and you can be assured there will be a next time–somebody tells you SB-181 is destroying/has destroyed past-tense the oil and gas industry in Colorado, here’s your rejoinder! And if you really want to irritate your conservative friends, follow that up with a brief lesson on the global energy economy, which as you and Gov. Polis already know dictates the fate of Colorado’s oil and gas industry far more than SB-181 ever could.
And yes, hopefully next time…nobody believes the hype to begin with.
Democrats are pursuing impeachment for political reasons or simply because they’re upset with the last election, say Republicans who backed the recall of Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) and/or other Democrats soon after they were elected.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, head of the Colorado Republican Party, came out against impeachment, saying: “Democrats spent three years trying to overturn an election that didn’t go their way… It’s time to move on.”
Now, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling is echoing Buck, telling a northern Colorado radio station that the impeachment effort is “playing politics,” and it’s a “distraction.”
“It’s a huge huge mistake for Nancy Pelosi to go down a path in which the polling that I have seen across the country is, people don’t want us to go down that path they actually want us to actually get our business taken care of in Washington DC and quit playing games,” said Sonnenberg on air.
“It just seems ludicrous to me that you would want to continue down that path rather than move an agenda forward,” he added.
Yet, Sonnenberg was a high-profile signer of the petition to recall Polis, having been featured on the Facebook page of “Dismiss Polis,” a group backing the now-failed effort.
Does Sonnenberg think the Polis recall was less about “playing politics” than the impeachment inquiry?
“They are two different scenarios,” Sonnenberg told the Colorado Times Recorder, emphasizing his point that he thinks the impeachment inquiry will hurt Democrats. “A recall is grassroots driven. It comes from the people. The impeachment came from the Speaker of House or a faction of that caucus.”
During this year’s controversy in Colorado politics over the failed recall attempts by Republicans against various state legislators as well as Gov. Jared Polis, a recurring theme has involved local political usual suspects lining up at the trough to make money off of recall committees they in most cases knew would never be successful. In particular, the right-wing Independence Institute operated a “crowdfunding” website known as Freedomfy that brought in over $20,000 for the now-defunct (and thoroughly scandalized) “Official” Recall Polis committee, as well as a fundraising page for the abortive recall attempt against former Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley.
“Freedomfy” eventually fell out of favor with the Polis recall committee, reportedly due to the substantially above-market “processing fees” charged by the Independence Institute for every donation made through the platform, and they wound up moving to other fundraising sites that (presumably) skimmed less off the top. The executive director of the Independence Institute Jon Caldara later piled insult on injury by admitting to the press that the Polis recall his organization had raised tens of thousands of dollars for (and pocket a couple grand along the way) was a fool’s errand the whole time.
In the aftermath of all that #fail, you might have thought that Freedomfy would quietly dry up and blow away with so many other fly-by-night political fundraising schemes. But as PT Barnum is alleged to have observed, “there’s a sucker born every minute!”
FRIDAY UPDATE: Amateur hour continues, writesMarianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette:
After Colorado Politics reported that a Polis recall committee had disclosed distributing $11,000 in contributed funds as gifts to people involved in the group, the committee has amended state filings to say that the payments were for “consultant and professional services” instead of “gifts.”
The amended report from “Official Recall Governor Jared Polis” group — filed at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, hours after CoPo’s story was posted — labels the purpose of those expenditures as “BOARD APPROVED – THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT COLORADO.”
The previous filing identified the purpose as as “BOARD GIFT – THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT COLORADO.” Other information about the payments was not changed.
That’s a swell amendment, but we’d say the grounds for the mother of all campaign finance complaints have only been reinforced by this act of ex post facto backside covering. We assume that will be the next shoe to drop–unless it just plain becomes time to start arresting people for fraud! We’ll leave that question to the lawyers, who should be coming directly.
As the Denver Post’sAnna Staverreports, the end of the road has come for the Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis Issue Committee–and after diverting $29,000 into a committee calling itself Colorado For Trump, thousands of dollars in donations to the committee are being given out as “gifts” to the abortive campaign’s organizers:
The Official Recall of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis group — which didn’t participate in the recent failed recall attempt by two other groups — has given $11,000 of the money it raised for the effort as gifts to staffers.
According to online campaign finance records filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, committee manager Shane Donnelley got $5,000 as a “thank you for caring about Colorado” gift, and secretary Lisa Pascoe and Weld County lead Rene McGill both received $3,000.
“Whether you call it a grift or a gift, this is just the latest in a string of events that show these recalls are being driven by scammers who are looking out for their own interests at the expense of unwitting voters,” said Curtis Hubbard, the spokesman for the Democratic group working against the recalls, Democracy First.
When we last checked in on the ashes of the failed push to recall Gov. Jared Polis earlier this month, the chair of the committee Juli-Andra Fuentes said she was waiting for a phone call (that wasn’t coming) from President Donald Trump personally before deciding what next to do with the $29,000 she diverted to “Colorado For Trump” from the Recall Polis committee–which might include legal defense if she’s sued by the Trump campaign for misuse of their brand. Shane Donnelley, as readers know, is one of the original organizers of the committee, but stepped back from a public role after anti-Semitic posts from Donnelley and another principal organizer Judy Spady wound up on the evening news.
The diversion of tens of thousands of dollars into the bogus Trump committee, and the thousands paid to local political operatives like Jon Caldara and Scott Gessler for their “Freedomfy” fundraising platform and legal fees respectively are well-known scandals at this point. But this latest disclosure of $11,000 given away as “gifts” to organizers after a campaign that accomplished absolutely nothing–helping principally to discredit the Polis recall petition drive after it commenced–is absolutely gobsmacking in its audacity.