When we last left the Recall Polis 2.0 campaign back in December of 2020, organizers were attempting to explain to their dismayed volunteers how despite all their best efforts, less than one third of the required 600,000+ signatures that would be required to put a recall question against Gov. Jared Polis on a statewide ballot had been collected–but not to worry, because the campaign was in court trying to win extra time to gather the other overwhelming majority of signatures needed that they couldn’t gather in the allotted 60-day window.
As you might have expected, that didn’t work out either–and at some point their lawyer advised the campaign they were wasting their money:
After 4 months pursuing a 90 day extension through the court, our attorney advised continuing to pursue the extension was not the best use of resources nor the most expedient action to remove Polis from office.
The sad end of “Recall Polis 1.0.”
Now, you might think that after two failed recall campaigns, each ending in its own special moment of statewide ridicule when it was no longer possible to conceal their failure after months trying to bluff momentum into existence, that the Polis recallers would at long last hang it up and try to defeat the state’s popular governor the old-fashioned way in the already fast-approaching 2022 general election.
Reluctantly we agreed to begin again with new charges warranting a Recall and new petitions. [Pols emphasis] During the 4 months in court volunteers have continued to join us with our Team expanding daily…
Polis continues to subject the citizens of Colorado to illegal and unconstitutional restrictions as well as depriving us our unalienable rights as stated in the US Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; as such We The People revoke our consent to be governed and will succeed in RECALLING POLIS IN 2021 and replacing him with a Governor with the god [sic-Pols] of the people at heart. Join us!
“Herbie the Hate Bug.”
Don’t let the website’s 1990s Geocities look fool you–this campaign is every bit as serious as the last two Recall Polis campaigns, and that means they should be able to raise enough money to make a much better website soon. That’s probably it, though: even setting aside Polis’ durable high approval ratings, Colorado’s very high relative signature threshold for qualifying a recall question for the statewide ballot makes anything like the madness that takes hold in California every couple of decades a pipe dream here.
Whatever happens next, in a way everybody wins: the recall organizers along with their lawyers and vendors get paid, Democrats reap the political benefit from Republicans distracting themselves and alienating voters on another fool’s errand, and Republicans who actually want to win races in 2022…
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.
With the campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis now consigned to the dustbin of history, we’ve been following developments surrounding the roughly $100,000 raised by the “Official” Recall Jared Polis committee–which readers will recall is the committee that decided not to launch a recall attempt without the huge financial and volunteer commitment that would be necessary and condemned the “Dismiss Polis” campaign for moving ahead without the resources to succeed. Earlier this month, we took note of a large transfer of funds from the “Official” Polis Recall committee to a committee named “Colorado For Trump,” and took that as a sign that their operations were winding down.
But as 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark reports in the video above, that’s not where this sorry story ends:
$30k in donations to recall Gov Polis were shifted to ‘Colorado For Trump,’ run by the same woman, Juli-Andra Fuentes. The Trump campaign says it’s not affiliated and may take action. Fuentes tells me she wants a personal phone call from the President first. #copolitics
You read that correctly: “Colorado For Trump” is not affiliated with the Trump campaign whatsoever, and is in fact run by the same Juli-Andra Fuentes who ran the “Official” Recall Polis committee. The Trump campaign is threatening legal action, and now Fuentes is talking about all kinds of alternative destinations for the committee’s remaining cash:
The $29k in remaining recall donations will be split between a new committee Fuentes declined to describe, charitable contributions, settling outstanding debts, and creating a legal fund to be used by the committee’s attorney, former Sec. of State Scott Gessler. #copolitics
Of courseScott Gesslergets some of the money! Gessler attaching himself to the revenue stream of this summer’s failed recall attempts has got to be one of the most under-reported angles on the whole story and we hope somebody catches up with him for a few questions. As for the rest of the cash, this boils down to a hard lesson in the pitfalls of political giving–in particular giving to PACs and other entities without a clear purpose and accountability for the monies raised.
This is a campaign that literally had donors pledging their disability and Social Security checks to make donations in their misguided low-information fervor to bring Gov. Polis down. To see that money now slushing around in the hands of obviously marginal people with no sense of responsibility to the donors they spent months fleecing is…well, it ought to be a crime. The only reason it may not be is because the “ScamPAC” industry pays the mortgages of a lot of people in politics. Like Scott Gessler.
When does it stop being a political campaign and just become a fraud? This situation is pushing the boundary.
As predictable as sunrise, 9NEWS’Marshall Zelingerreports:
One of two groups seeking contributions to try to recall Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) recently diverted nearly a third of its money to a different effort.
“Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis” has received $108,000 in contributions since forming in March.
In a campaign finance filing on Monday, that group reported giving $29,657.47 to “Colorado For Trump.” The reason stated was “Board approved expenditure for pivoting purposes.”
To recap, since it’s been awhile since the Recall Polis campaign(s) have merited much attention, with the doomed effort to collect over 600,000 voter signatures heading for its September 6th day of reckoning–this is the “Official” Recall Polis campaign, not the “Dismiss Polis” effort currently conducting the petition drive to get a recall question on the ballot. Readers will recall that the “Official” Recall Polis campaign denounced the “Dismiss Polis” campaign as a sham with no resources, and Dismiss Polis responded with similar allegations against the “Official” campaign excepting the significant resources the “Official” campaign has raised and refused to spend. Because none of these efforts have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually succeeding in placing a recall question on the ballot, all of the money raised by these committees can be reasonably categorized as scammed loot from conception to execution.
With all of this in mind, this decision by the “Official” Recall Polis committee to “pivot” a third of their cash to Colorado For Trump might seem like an attempt to do right by their donors, some of whom had posted on social media about spending their disability and welfare checks on donations to the campaign. The problem is, only a third of the money raised to recall Gov. Jared Polis going to any electoral purpose is still a scam no matter how you sugar-coat it. What’s the status of the other $70,000 this committee took in? We know that some of the biggest checks early in the campaign were written to former Secretary of State Scott Gessler and online payment processors like the Independence Institute, but there’s tens of thousands of dollars slushing around that this rerouting of funds to the Trump re-election campaign does not account for. If it was our money, we’d want to know how to get it back. It’s easy, after all, to donate to the Trump campaign ourselves if we want.
And yes, this is further confirmation that the movement to recall Colorado’s popular freshman governor less than a year after his double-digit victory is just about to be relegated to the dustbin of history! Hopefully that part, anyway, is not news to anyone.
We’ve discussed at length in this space about the nascent “official” campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis, which has raised somewhere north of $25,000 online despite not being able to start a petition campaign due to a constitutional requirement that a sitting governor be in office for six months before being recalled. The signature requirement to initiate a recall of the governor is well in excess of 600,000, which would require an unprecedented petition drive with a presumed cost in the millions. This raises questions the feasibility of the campaign, and invites questions about how the tiny fraction of the required total raised so far is being spent.
We’ve discussed the role of local political organizations like the Independence Institute in the Polis recall campaign’s fundraising, with Jon Caldara’s Freedomfy website skimming an unusually large percentage from online donations to the campaign and former Secretary of State Scott Gessler the group’s largest expenditure so far for “legal expenses.” During the past month, the campaign’s online fundraising has apparently moved away from Caldara’s platform, but it’s evident that fundraising is slowing not exponentially growing in the manner that would be needed for this campaign to ever get off the ground.
To this climate of uncertainty and questionable objectives you can now add a finance complaint filed last week against the campaign alleging potentially thousands of dollars of unaccounted for funds–a complaint sure to make donors to this campaign feel much better:
In short, this complaint alleges that the campaign has raised funds that have not been reported, and juggled fundraising platforms to obfuscate the total amount raised. The Secretary of State’s office is now evaluating this complaint to determine whether to proceed to an investigation, but this is very much in line with the concerns we’ve been raising about this campaign for months now. Once you realize that recalling the governor is logistically so difficult that an effort dwarfing the scale of anything that has been attempted in Colorado history would be needed, it’s obvious that even if they’re hiding a percentage of the money they’ve raised this is never going to happen. Money donated to this campaign would be better used to literally light a charcoal grill.
And that’s before the grifting! Usual suspects like Caldara and Gessler got their cut, but at least there was some disclosure. If it turns out that much larger percentages of the campaign’s take have been pocketed along the way as this complaint suggests, we’re talking about a whole new level of “ScamPAC”–perhaps even a matter to be referred from the Secretary of State to a criminal prosecutor.
In the meantime, we can only say again: if you’re dumb enough to make a donation to the Official Recall Polis Campaign, please don’t spend your SSI check. It stops being funny when needy folks get scammed.
The campaign to recall Gov. Jared Polis’ fundraising appears to have stalled out over the past few weeks. Almost a month ago on May 6, the Independence Institute’s “Freedomfy” fundraising page for the Polis recall showed $23,740 raised toward the effort. As of this writing on June 3, the page shows only $24,046 raised–less than $500 in a month, seemingly a dramatic slowdown from their early trajectory. But that might not be the whole story–if you visit the “Official Recall Polis”website, they’re now directing to a non-Freedomfy fundraising page. We’re not sure exactly when that change was made, but the new page does not publicly show donations or a cumulative total raised.
Regardless as we’ve discussed in detail, the campaign to recall Gov. Polis has such a meager chance of success that its true goal cannot be to actually get a recall question on the ballot. Unlike recalls against state lawmakers, a successful petition to force a recall election of the sitting governor would require over 600,000 valid Colorado voter signatures–many times the amount required for any statewide ballot question, and far in excess of what has ever been collected for any purpose in this state. The logistical requirements to conduct a petition drive on that scale are infeasible and at a cost that’s frankly difficult to accurately estimate.
To anyone who understands the extreme difficulty of making good on the Recall Polis campaign’s eponymous promise, it’s clear that the real purpose of the operation is the funds being raised to support it. The Independence Institute’s Freedomfy “fundraising platform” skimmed a large percentage off the top of every online donation for the $24,000 raised through that site, more than double what GoFundMe charges–and the largest recipient of the funds raised so far has been to former Secretary of State Scott Gessler for legal fees. If they can’t raise the untold millions they would need to actually recall Gov. Polis, and it definitely looks at this point like they can’t, the consolation prize is the cash reaped by conservative organizations and lawyers.
That’s a comment late last week from the Official Recall Polis Facebook group, administrator Karen Murray fleecing the faithful for more donations. The comment in response promises a donation to the campaign when “my SSI arrives.” This is a reference to Supplemental Security Income, federal benefits paid to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or over 65. SSI is not Social Security, but a direct cash benefit paid from general tax revenues to elderly and disabled people who are still too poor to make ends meet.
Would you take this woman’s SSI money for a futile Recall Polis campaign?
Would you sleep well if you did?
One thing’s for sure. We can’t call this a “victimless crime” anymore.
We’d say the opportunity for a “dollar sign” (see below) conflict of interest is rather large. Wouldn’t you?
In the last 24 hours, the “campaign” to recall Gov. Jared Polis, which kicked off with a spate of nasty revelations about the anti-Semitic and otherwise unpalatably extreme views of its organizers, has shifted gears–into a new operation run by familiar faces in Colorado politics, and with a new sense of purpose.
What’s the purpose? We’ll let 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark explain:
“Dollar signs.” Lots of them. Here’s a TL;DR version:
Yesterday, it was announced that former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been “retained” as counsel for the Recall Polis organization, presumably to help the group navigate an unprecedented path to collecting over 600,000 valid Colorado voter signatures–many times the amount ever collected in a petition drive before. And that’s not all:
The self-proclaimed official effort to recall @GovofCO Polis has shifted its fundraising from GoFundMe to Freedomfy, a crowdfunding site owned by the Independence Institute. @i2idotorg gets a 6% cut + a transaction fee. #copolitics#9NEWS
In a move just as noteworthy, fundraising for the Recall Polis campaign is being taken over by the Independence Institute , run by longtime local political walking clown show operative Jon Caldara, and their recently-deployed “Freedomfy” crowdfunding online platform. And with that bit of news, there’s something every person considering a donation to the Recall Polis campaign on “Freedomfy” needs to know:
Compared to every major crowdsource fundraising platform with the apparent exception of Indiegogo, “Freedomfy” is ripping you off. The Independence Institute charges an exorbitant fee of 6%, plus 30 cents for every individual transaction. That’s more than double the fees charged by GoFundMe, the platform the Recall Polis organization from is migrating away from. What’s more, GoFundMe has an active pool of over 50 million donors. We don’t know how many members “Freedomfy” has, but it’s not anywhere near 50 million.
With that said, there’s one thing GoFundMe hasn’t got–a percentage flowing to Jon Caldara.
We’ve already discussed at length how attempting to recall Gov. Jared Polis, a campaign that can’t even under the state constitution begin until he’s been in office six months, is a fool’s errand logistically. The massive signature requirement to place the question on the ballot would require a multimillion dollar petition gathering operation of unprecedented scale–to say nothing of what the actual recall election would cost proponents if it made the ballot. But that hasn’t dissuaded a strident segment of the Republican base in Colorado from raving.
And where there’s passion, especially poorly thought-out passion, there’s money! Caldara sets up a fundraising stream that he nets the skim from, and Gessler submits billable hours that there is now a stream of money to cover. That’s what they call a sustainable business model. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if there’s ever a recall of Gov. Polis–in fact that could be considered a less desirable outcome.
Readers will remember that Republicans led by Michael Fields of the conservative advocacy group Advance Coloradoimmediately announced a recall campaign against state Sen. Kevin Priola following Priola’s defection in August to the Democratic Party, obtaining a deadline to return signatures coinciding with Election Day before Denver District Court Judge Marie Avery Moses ruled that recallistas had to wait until Priola began representing the new boundaries of his Senate district in January. This ruling was highly adverse to the recall campaign, effectively negating the effort and money expended up to that time on the petition drive.
But as the Denver Post’s Seth Klamannreports, another even more adverse event was on the horizon:
A renewed attempt to recall party-switching state Sen. Kevin Priola is less likely to unfold early next year in the wake of Colorado Republicans’ electoral losses last week, an organizer said Thursday.
Officials behind the first failed attempt to recall Priola have yet to make a final decision on whether to resurrect the effort next year, said Michael Fields, of the conservative group Advance Colorado. But the expense of another campaign and the scale of the Democrats’ control of the Senate — with or without Priola — makes a second try “more unlikely” going forward, he said. [Pols emphasis]
Priola, a Henderson lawmaker, was the target of a recall campaign shortly after he announced in August that he was switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. At the time, officials from both parties believed control of the state Senate could swing Republican, and Priola’s switch complicated that path and provided a lifeline to Democrats wary of what appeared to be a looming red-wave election…
As it turns out, the best thing Democrats could do to defend Sen. Priola was to make his party switch irrelevant to determining the Senate majority by burying the Republican Party in this year’s elections. Having expanded their Senate majority by several seats, Democrats left Republicans with no material benefit to recalling Sen. Priola–and after their humiliating losses, the partisan momentum Republicans felt they had initially to pursue this recall has completely dissipated.
The experience of the multiple and increasingly pathetic recall attempts against Gov. Jared Polis throughout his first four years in office has taught us that where there’s an opportunity for grift, somebody is likely to make the attempt. Fortunately, it looks like the smart Republican money is backing away from plunging right into yet another recall season on the heels of another failed election season.
That would be the first good decision Colorado Republicans have made in some time.
Practically from the moment Gov. Jared Polis was elected in 2018, Republicans in the state have been trying to recall him. Immediately following the 2019 legislative session, the first Recall Polis campaign–actually several competing and mutually distrustful campaigns of which one eventually emerged to collect signatures–launched their 60-day window to collect the over 630,000 valid Colorado voters signatures required to qualify a recall question for the statewide ballot. That campaign never turned in their petitions to verify the signatures but only claimed to have gathered around 300,000–less than half what was required, even without the “padding” necessary to withstand validity checks.
The Recall Polis movement should have ended there, but it didn’t. In 2020, the “Recall Polis 2.0” (or Recall Polis 2020) campaign tried again and failed by an unverifiable but presumably even greater margin, lacking even the meager resources that the first attempt had. An unsuccessful court battle to extend their signature gathering time led to promises throughout most of 2021 of an imminent “Recall Polis 3.0” campaign, now expanded to two petitions calling for the recall of Gov. Polis as well as Secretary of State Jena Griswold. Given that the group hasn’t raised enough money to cover even printing petitions for one race, it wasn’t surprising that no campaign to collect signatures ever kicked off.
Over at the Recall Polis/Griswold 2022 website, the fundraising page to collect those welfare checks from patriotic invalids is live. The countdown for their 60-day window to collect a total of over 1.2 million valid Colorado voter signatures kicked off last Thursday, so it’s all hands on deck!
Back in 2019, there was a argument that although having zero chance of success, a petition drive to recall Gov. Polis could be a useful activity to keep the conservative base organized ahead of Polis’ next election. Instead, the humiliating failure of every single one of these campaigns helped discredit not just Polis’ opponents but the misuse of recall power in general that has plagued Colorado politics for almost a decade. In 2022, the year Polis is actually up for election, the “Recall Polis 4.0” petition drive is a laughably counterproductive diversion of resources away from what Republicans should always have been focused on: winning this November.
For the next 60 days, get ready for fake news about signatures the recall campaign isn’t really gathering, increasing tension as the realization of futility sets in, concluding in a sad little press conference that absolutely, positively refuses to accept defeat. No voters will be won over by this sloppy exercise, which will serve as a metaphor going into November for failure by Republicans to lay a glove on our state’s popular incumbent governor.
We’ve been doing our best to keep an eye on the latest efforts by right-wing grifters to “recall” Gov. Jared Polis and/or Secretary of State Jena Griswold. When last we checked — on August 31 — “lead organizer” Lori Cutunilli was promising the Facebook faithful that recall petitions were just a few weeks away from circulation!
However, Recallpalooza seemed to be gasping for air by the time California Gov. Gavin Newsom easily turned back an attempt to oust him from office in September. According to the latest campaign finance report for the “Recall Polis – Griswold 2021” committee, momentum remains elusive:
You’re reading that correctly. The recall committee raised $12 in the last month — all of which came from Cutunilli herself. Things are so bad, in fact, that they would need to raise $1,307 just to be able to report that they have no money.
UPDATE: Here’s how the Recall Polis ringleader was pre-coping with yesterday’s loss Monday afternoon:
We haven’t seen any word since. Perhaps we won’t.
Now-Rep. Lauren Boebert gathering Recall Polis signatures in front of Shooters Grill in Rifle.
The Los Angeles Times’ political unit recaps last night’s failure to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, rejecting the recall question by a slightly greater margin than Newsom enjoyed in his 2018 election win–an historic victory over far-right activists abusing the recall process meant to resolve serious cases of malfeasance to force electoral do-overs with a “reweighted” electorate. That’s a victory, as we’ll discuss, that will resonate beyond the borders of the Golden State:
The recall offered Republicans their best chance in more than a decade to take the helm of the largest state in the union. But the effort was undercut when Newsom and the nation’s leading Democrats, aided by visits to California by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, portrayed the campaign to oust the governor as a “life and death” battle against “Trumpism” and far-right anti-vaccine activists…
[Larry] Elder was a perfect foil, [GOP strategist Dave] Gilliard said. The Republican opposed abortion rights and supported offshore oil drilling, anathema to the state’s Democratic majority. Elder has also been a die-hard supporter of Trump, an immensely unpopular figure in California. In fact, Gilliard said, recall proponents pleaded with Trump’s advisors to “convince him to stay out of it,” which was successful until recent days when he started making baseless claims that California’s recall election was “rigged.”
…Newsom is the second California governor to have faced a recall election, which was projected to cost $276 million dollars, a price tag blasted by Democrats. In 2003, California voters upset over rolling power outages, budget cuts and a steep increase in vehicle license fees recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis from office and elected actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who remains the last Republican to have served as the state’s chief executive.
“Herbie the Hate Bug.”
The massive expense of the 2021 California recall election is even more outrageous when you consider that Newsom was already up for re-election in 2022. Far from being at a disadvantage after this fight, however, Newsom has a fully operational campaign ready to march triumphantly into next year’s elections. The specter of the 2003 gubernatorial recall election in California, which has been the model for every subsequent recall election organized by conservatives in recent years, has been decisively put to rest.
What does this mean in Colorado–where Republicans in 2019 made a serious, party-sanctioned effort to recall opportune target Democratic lawmakers, followed by two “official” and a whole slew of fundraising operations masquerading as recall campaigns against Gov. Jared Polis? After 2019’s incoming Colorado Republican party chair Ken Buck promised to teach Democrats how to spell “R-E-C-A-L-L” and his vice-chair now successor Kristi Burton Brown personally spearheaded the disastrous recall campaign against Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, in Colorado the GOP recall movement quickly degenerated into small-scale grifting operations whose questionable spending habits and complete lack of progress toward their stated objectives became a major embarrassment to Republicans at all levels.
As of today, we have a pretty good indicator of what Colorado’s recall evangelists and grifters would have done with millions of dollars had they ever been given access to that kind of money. The Recall Polis campaign fleeced small donors for their welfare and pension checks, so in that respect one might feel more sympathy over the smaller amount of money grifted here versus the millions and millions wasted in California trying to recall Gavin Newsom. The scale of the financing would only have magnified the scale of their failure.
And in both places, the idea of trying again, without a justification of the kind recalls were actually created for…
Well folks, that’s the most ridiculous thing we can possibly imagine. How about you?
When we last checked in back in July on what’s being billed as the third attempt to recall Gov. Jared Polis in as many years–now having tacked on Secretary of State Jena Griswoldfor good measure–the countdown to kickoff of the latest campaign’s 60-day window to collect over 630,000 valid voter signatures had counted down to zero, but no petition drive ever kicked off. In a major blow to the campaign’s organizing capacity, the principal Facebook group associated with the campaign was shut down around the same time, presumably for spreading the usual assortment of misinformation of the electoral and pandemic variety.
But for the diehard lead organizer of the “Recall Polis 2021” campaign, Lori Cutunilli, recalling Gov. Jared Polis is a dream that simply won’t go away:
When asked if the recall is ever going to become a reality, Cutunilli says you betcha:
There you have it, folks! Just “a couple more weeks.” It’s possible they’re hoping for a boost in momentum once the gubernatorial recall election in California wraps up, but the polls say that’s a false hope–and that’s before you consider how much more difficult it is proportionately to obtain the signatures required in Colorado vs. the Golden State. This is the principal reason why both previous attempts to get a recall question on the ballot against Gov. Polis failed to obtain even half the required number of signatures despite raising and questionably distributing tens of thousands of dollars.
On the upside, if they stay at it the Recall Polis 20192020 2021 campaigns might actually keep recall speculation bubbling from Gov. Polis’ swearing in all the way through his re-election!
Which will go down as one of the most ridiculous “achievements” in Colorado political history.
As Liam Adams of the Colorado Community Newspapers affiliate Westminster Windowreports–the latest thinly-veiled partisan power play by Republicans hoping to rebuild their bench and base in municipal races, an attempted recall of a single Westminster city councilman nominally over water rates, failed yesterday by a lopsided margin:
Jon Voelz will keep his seat on Westminster City Council after unofficial results in Tuesday’s contentious, expensive election showed him with 62% of total votes.
“I’m glad the common sense of our residents prevailed,” Voelz said in a phone call Tuesday night. “This misleading, and wasteful and shameful recall is coming to an end. I look forward to continuing my work on city council.”
As we noted earlier this month, this recall election was (regardless of the outcome) one of the most egregious wastes of time and taxpayer dollars in Westminster’s history, since Jon Voelz is coming right back up for his regular re-election this fall:
Voelz’s seat is only safe until November when he must run for reelection. The recall election cost the city up to $250,000 to run because it was not part of a coordinated county election.
In addition to failing dismally in their campaign to recall Jon Voelz from office, the so-called “Westminster Water Warriors” wasted a quarter million taxpayer dollars by forcing a special election less than four months before the regular municipal elections in November. Unlike in the case of a frivolous lawsuit, there’s no provision by which the city can recover their expenses for a frivolous and needless recall election, but the timing and outcome of this effort make it one of the most brazen and ultimately self-immolating abuses of recall power we’ve ever seen.
But as the story continues, there is one winner. It’s the guy who, as Republican recall, coup attempts, and other assorted shenanigans come and go, always seems to come out the winner:
As of July 16, the Water Warriors fundraised a total of $19,606 and spent $21,383, most of which went to [Scott] Gessler in attorneys fees. As of July 7, the group still owed Gessler about $20,000.
Former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who scooped up thousands in attorney’s fees from the failed 2019 recall attempt against Gov. Jared Polis and billed top dollar to the Trump campaign for his “expert testimony” on how the 2020 presidential election might have been stolen in Nevada (it wasn’t), is now $40,000 richer from the recall that cost Westminster taxpayers $250,000–assuming he collects the remaining $20,000 he’s owed, of course. It’s possible that the cost of Gessler’s treachery to society has never been more arithmetically quantifiable.
Just like the third certain to fail recall attempt against Gov. Polis now maybe getting underway, as long as there’s a single dollar to grift from these half-baked operations there will be folks with more time than credibility ready to undertake them. At some point, though, even the most fact-impervious rabblerouser on the right has got to realize that they are all being, at the end of the day, fleeced by usual suspects up the food chain who have no interest whatsoever in their success.
Checking in on the website for what would be the third attempt since 2019 to recall Gov. Jared Polis with Secretary of State Jena Griswold thrown in this time because it’s all fantasy and why the hell not, we see that the countdown clock for starting their 60-day petition circulation campaign has ticked down to zero:
We should be on the edge of our seats!
Now, as was the case with Polis Recall 2019 and 2020’s “Polis Recall 2.0,” this is the golden period of opportunity for the Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 campaign to be furiously drumming up whatever buzz and earned media they can, in order to maximize any chance at achieving the goal the two prior campaigns couldn’t even get halfway to reaching: over 630,000 valid Colorado voter signatures needed to qualify a recall question for a future statewide election.
Instead, it looks like the Polis Recall campaign has a more basic problem on their hands:
It would appear that somebody in the private Facebook group where recall organizing was to be taking place posted something stupid–we’re guessing they posted a lot of stupid things–about the COVID-19 pandemic that eventually brought the dreaded ball gag of Mark Zuckerberg down around the piehole of the Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 campaign on that platform. You would think by now most of these very fine people would have moved to Parler or Gab or whichever alternative network it is these days that allows people to lie about stuff without any consequences. That’s not Facebook anymore, and most people we know not named Ken Buck are pretty happy about that.
But to the extent the Recall Polis-Griswold 2021 campaign was relying on Facebook to organize, it’s back to square one! Perhaps they’ll see reason and just start getting ready for the next regular election in 2022, but we have no reason to expect rational behavior at this point. There’s neither fun nor grift in that.
Checking in as we periodically do on what’s promised to be a third recall campaign against Gov. Jared Polis, there’s a lot of chatter suggesting that another petition drive is in the offing at the end of the month. Readers will recall that the Recall Polis 2021 campaign has promised a 400% bigger effort than the 2020 recall campaign, which is good because Recall Polis 2020 was much less successful than the Recall Polis 2019 campaign was and…well, the math gets complicated but you get the idea. There’s just not much reason at this point to take any of this seriously.
Especially now that their “400% bigger operation” just doubled their workload:
That’s right, folks! Rather than waiting for the general election at its regular allotted interval in November of 2022, this is now apparently a campaign to recall both Gov. Jared Polis and Secretary of State Jena Griswold. We haven’t seen the campaign’s list of grievances against Griswold specifically as of this writing, presumably Scott Gessler is still writing that up at his billable rate of $450 an hour. But to be clear, the signature requirement to qualify a recall question for the ballot against a sitting Secretary of State is the same as recalling Gov. Polis–and the previous two petition campaigns against Gov. Polis came nowhere close to the 630,000+ valid voter signatures required for a recall to move forward. We’ll never even know how far short the second effort fell because they never turned in their signatures to be verified.
As for why they decided to add Secretary of State Griswold, greatly increasing the logistical hurdle they’ve never once come close to successfully reaching for the much higher profile governor himself?
In the timeless words of Forrest Gump, “stupid is as stupid does.”
Keeping tabs on what’s become a perennial distraction for Colorado’s more excitable far-right Republican whacktivists, the twice-failed but going for three campaign to qualify a recall question against Gov. Jared Polis for the statewide ballot. Next month, the Recall Polis campaign is back with 400% more…of everything!
Starting with punctuation!
So, we don’t know who this “Newsome” fellow they’re talking about is, but to be clear once again California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing what’s shaping up to be another historic clown show recall election in due to proportionately far lower required signatures to qualify relative to our two states’ population. Gathering 1.6 million signatures in a state of 40 million people is actually a much more attainable goal than in Colorado, where over 600,000 signatures are needed in a state with only 6 million residents.
But that’s not going to stop the Recall Polis 2021 campaign from trying, no doubt hoping a little bit of the energy from California’s recall circus will rub off on Colorado. There’s big money to be raised and paid out no matter what happens, which as we know from the previous two failed attempts is enough reason all by itself to have another go.
And above all, don’t be fooled by imitators–of which there are so very many:
‘Recall Polis 2021’ is the only current recall campaign of Colorado Governor Jared Polis
‘Recall Polis 2021’ is not affiliated with:
Official Recall Polis
Recallpolis.com (fraudulently collecting donations)
Coloradans Against Jared Polis
Friends of Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis
Recall Jared Polis 2020
Recall Jared Polis 2021
So to recap, “Recall Polis 2021” is the only Recall Polis campaign you should send your welfare check to, definitely not to those ripoff artist bastards at “Recall JARED Polis 2021.” There are no “Friends of” the real recall campaign, the “Official Recall Polis” campaign is not official, and whatever you do do not donate to RecallPolis.com because they’re “fraudulently collecting donations.”
Translation: they’re not turning in signatures. Because they don’t have the signatures. Every time they said they were on track to get the signatures, they were lying. This was, as we expected and as was the first Recall Polis campaign, a waste of everyone’s valuable time. The faithful are, needless to say, rather pissed:
Let the excuse-making commence anew! Better luck with Recall Polis 3.0, which should begin shortly.
FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Anticipation builds at the Dethrone Polis Facebook page as today’s close-of-business deadline to turn in 630,000+ valid voter signatures looms:
Stay tuned–don’t make this the only thing you do today, but we’ll let you know how pathetically it ends.
As readers keeping track are aware, and we admit that’s probably not all of you, tomorrow is the deadline for the so-called Dethrone Polis 2020 campaign to submit over 630,000 valid Colorado voter signatures to qualify a recall question against Democratic Gov. Jared Polis for a future special election. We have been following this effort as closely as our finite attention span allows since its kickoff in September, and there has been nothing to suggest anything close to the massive effort that would be required is actually underway to collect more petition signatures than any campaign in the state’s history has ever collected.
Despite this, as readers know, the Dethrone Polis 2020 campaign has postedoptimistic graphics along the way, which they originally claimed showed the number of “petition signatures” collected–later altered to clarify it depicts the number of “petitions in circulation.” We assumed this to mean they had printed and handed out blank petition forms that could hypothetically hold 55% of the signatures they needed.
But when we checked the Dethrone Polis site this morning, the progress meter we’ve become accustomed watching grow to was gone, replaced by this message:
That’s it. “Signature collection is complete.” Which leaves plenty of wiggle room for the question we won’t have definitely answered until tomorrow’s deadline–was signature collection “completed”…successfully? Will the Dethrone Polis campaign actually deliver 630,000+ valid voter signatures tomorrow? Will it be another press conference to announce they (maybe) collected less than half of what they needed like the last Polis recall campaign? Will they show up with empty Budwesier boxes?
The one thing we can say for sure is they’ll have to announce the end of the current recall campaign before they can start the next Polis recall campaign. Who knows? Maybe recalling Gov. Polis will become a permanent cottage industry for little bands of disaffected Republicans who take up the cause, fail, and distribute the money raised among themselves. If nothing else, it’s a fine distraction from losing elections!
You’re right, nobody’s going to pay for this forever. Stay tuned for the ignominious conclusion.
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.
One of the big political stories of 2019 in Colorado centered around the completely disastrous attempts by right-wing Republicans to “recall” Democratic lawmakers from office. Angry Facebook groups morphed into angry recall “organizations” that did a decent job of stealing people’s money but had more trouble accomplishing their stated goals; various recall groups tried and failed six separate times to gather enough petition signatures to force a recall election for Democratic members of the State House, State Senate, and even Gov. Jared Polis.
The punctuation mark to this nonsense came in October, when organizers attempting to oust Senate President Leroy Garciaturned in FOUR petition signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Not four complete petitions, mind you, but four signatures in total. Needless to say, that was quite a bit short of the 13,506 that were required to force a recall election.
At this point, threatening to recall a lawmaker in Colorado is kinda like promising to use a magical spell to turn someone into a newt. But apparently “failing miserably” is no reason for angry Republicans on social media to think a new recall effort won’t work this time — especially if these Republicans target one of their own.
Sen. Kevin Priola (?-Henderson) can’t seem to get it together, and many in the Republican party base are getting fed up with his liberal voting record. So angry that a “Recall Priola” Facebook Group popped up recently. [Pols emphasis]
the Party faithful has “put up” with Priola for years because of his strong work ethic on the campaign trail, knocking on tens of thousands of doors and winning in tough swing-districts. Not that support is becoming lesser every day [SIC: We assume they meant to write “now” instead of “not” and something more grammatically-correct than “lesser.”]
With his voting record all over the board, Republicans are starting to get fed up. For example, Priola came out in support of creating government-funded heroin injection centers last year. This year, he is working to ban several types of tobacco products.
We aren’t sure what his play is, but banning nicotine products while legalizing the public use of heroin looks hypocritical.
State Sen. Kevin Priola (R-Adams County)
Colorado Citizen Press — believed to be directly connected to House Minority Leader Patrick Neville — notes later that Sen. Kevin Priola “is continually threatening to switch parties.” We’d say that irony is not the strong suit of whoever wrote this blog post, but it is clear that the ultimate goal here is to get rid of Priola somehow:
Of course, a recall would be a tad crazy when they could pop up a primary challenger for a fraction of the cost. Given Priola’s voting record, it wouldn’t be challenging to convince the delegates to vote the challenger onto the ballot…
…This begs the question, will those angry activists standup a credible primary opponent before the filing deadline?
The Adams County Republican Party will gather for its county assembly on March 21, which means the anti-Priola club has less than two weeks to come up with a potential Primary opponent.
This would not be the first time that Colorado Republicans have tried to shank Priola. We haven’t heard substantial rumors that Priola might really be interested in switching political parties, but with friends like these…
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:
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.
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.
Yesterday afternoon, the recall campaigns targeting state Sens. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood announced the failure of their efforts after having collected an unknown number of signatures short of the requirement in both districts. This news yesterday afternoon came following Friday’s announcement that the “Dismiss Polis” recall petition campaign gathered less than half the required signatures to qualify a recall question against Gov. Jared Polis for the ballot. Back in June, the recall petition campaign targeting Rep. Tom Sullivanfailed after intense national news coverage highlighted the offense of trying to recall the father of an Aurora theater massacre victim for passing gun control legislation.
The Recall Polis “creeper van.”
Last March, Rep. Ken Buck was elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party on a promise to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” The ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan was filed by Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown, who subsequently tried to distance the party from her actions as it became clear to all parties that a serious political and moral error had been made in attempting to recall Rep. Sullivan.
The recall campaign against Gov. Polis kicked off, as readers know well, over the strenuous objections of the “Official” Recall Polis committee who (as it turns out correctly) predicted the effort would fail. Two competing fundraising operations nominally dedicated to the same extremely unlikely goal of recalling Gov. Polis confusingly solicited Republicans for funds, and laid out opposing but always unrealistic visions for how the recall would proceed. In the end the “official” committee denounced the petition drive managed by GOP attorney Korry Lewis, and wrote a big check to Colorado For Trump in hope of deflecting allegations of defrauding its donors–in spirit if not in legal point of fact.
The Polis recall petition campaign claimed to have collected around 300,000 signatures, less than half the required total let alone the 30%+ margin required to cover invalid signatures during the verification process. Because these signatures will never be turned in, no one will ever know if even these claimed numbers are accurate. Likewise with the now-dead recall petition drives targeting Sens. Lee and Pettersen–those campaigns did not disclose even an estimate of signatures they had collected, and it would be impossible to verify any number they provided. On the other hand, Democrats used these petition drives to mobilize large canvass operations in the targeted districts, giving them a jump on the next cycle.
“Herbie The Hate Bug.”
The collapse in just the space of a few days of recall campaigns that have dominated political news coverage in Colorado for most of 2019 has been so stunning that the magnitude of the defeat for Republicans risks not being fully digested by the relentless news cycle. There’s an understandable desire in the wake of this defeat to lay blame on the recall organizers, from the freaks and ghouls of the Polis recall to Nancy Pallozzi, the silly-season caricature who ran the recall campaign against Sen. Pettersen in SD-22 after losing to Pettersen by 20 points in her House race three years ago. In retrospect, yes, these were fringe types who did not deserve the attention they were paid–but the responsibility for what they did goes right back to GOP chairman Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, and every other high-placed Republican who led the party to this state of ruin instead of preparing for the next general election in 2020.
The red-on-red recriminations are already starting. Buck’s absentee leadership of the Colorado Republican Party while radical subordinates like Kristi Burton Brown run amok, the chokehold of the Neville clan and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) on the GOP House caucus as well as county sheriffs and party organizations across the state, occurring against the backdrop of the Republican Party’s massive losses in Colorado in the 2018 elections–all of this is now a burning issue for every Colorado Republican who wants to avoid another wholesale disaster in November of 2020.
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).
Over the years as Republicans have faced ever-greater defeats in Colorado both in accordance with and opposed to national trends, voices within the party have made half-hearted and in many cases disingenuous calls for a fundamental shift in direction. After sweeping losses in 2012, Republican strategists Josh Penry and Rob Witwer said flatly that Republicans “must improve or die”–and then Penry in particular got rich as a grifting “consultant” for losing Republican campaigns. In 2016, two-time gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez, himself no stranger to fringy self-destructive politics, tried unsuccessfully to purge the GOP’s slate of legislative candidates, incumbents and fresh faces alike, whom he believed were doing more harm than good for the party in the long term.
Today, Colorado Republicans find themselves at another such crossroads. Almost a year has been wasted in foolish pursuit of revenge for the losses of 2018 instead of getting ready to minimize what’s shaping up to be yet another Democratic wave in 2020. The state party is in the hands of unserious radicals who do not possess elementary political sense based on their own actions, and still tightly bound to RMGO and the Nevilles even as it costs them their last vestiges of relevance.
In 2010, Dan Maes led the Colorado GOP to an 11% finish in the governor’s race.
The hole they’re in today is every bit as deep, with no one but themselves to blame.
This is the fourth recall petition against Democratic lawmakers this year that has failed.
Last Friday, organizers of an effort to recall Gov. Jared Polis announced they had failed to gather enough signatures for a recall. They claimed to have gathered around 300,000 of the necessary 631,266 but provided no proof…
“It’s hardly a surprise that these bogus recalls failed to find support beyond the grifters, extremists and sore losers who hatched the ploys in the first place,” said the group’s spokesman, Curtis Hubbard. “These scams were designed to raise money and collect data on voters in competitive districts, and all Coloradans — regardless of political affiliation — should be disgusted by the abuse of the recall process.”
Sens. Brittany Pettersen, Pete Lee (D).
UPDATE #3: Here’s the statement from “Recall Et All,” blaming the failure of the Lee and Pettersen recalls on big bad nasty union thugs, et al. — who target 60-80 year old women, no less — while promising like good Scooby Doo villains to be back next time for total victory!
Recall Et All is suspending the recall campaigns for Senators Pete Lee (SD11) and Brittany Pettersen (SD22). We are confident in the success of our future efforts to recall both of these elected officials. In the meantime, we will continue to educate the public regarding the party-line politics being played in both districts that completely undermine the will of the people.
We want to thank each and every volunteer who fought through extreme heat, countless sunburns, and the harassment of dissenters which was not limited to vile name calling and crude gestures. Our dedicated volunteers also went up against the onslaught of paid protesters whose only purpose was to harass and intimidate. We learned that the leftists will stop at nothing to impede our signature-gathering efforts, as they focused on 60-80 year-old volunteers, mostly women.
We are so proud of our volunteers for standing up for freedom. They did not back down from these juvenile, dirty tactics! This opposition only showed the citizens of Colorado their true colors, making the decision to sign that much easier.
To our law enforcement officers and security guards, thank you for checking on us, treating us with dignity and respect, and recognizing our First Amendment rights.
Lastly, our sincere gratitude to the businesses in and around Senate Districts 11 and 22, both large and small, that protected our volunteers’ signature-gathering activities and their right to petition in parking lots, store fronts, etc. Protecting our freedoms is what this whole movement is about, and we will continue to fight that battle for the people of Colorado. The fight isn’t over, it’s just begun.
We’re so confident in future recall efforts that we’re just going to stop altogether! That makes lotsa sense.
Considering that both Senators Lee and Pettersen won their 2018 elections overwhelmingly by double digits, it is hardly surprising the sore losers running these sham recalls are throwing in the towel. As has been the case with the previous failed recalls, this was never about their votes. These were far-right activists who are upset they lost so badly in 2018 and were desperate for a redo through these ridiculous recalls. The people of SD11 and SD22 saw through this sham, which is exactly why they rejected this cynical effort to overthrow their 2018 votes.
An attempted recall of state Sen. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) fizzled today, as proponents will not meet the deadline to submit over 11,000 signatures.
Resist Polis PAC board member Kristina Finley confirmed that signatures will not be submitted by 5:00 PM today…
Recall Et Al, the issue group behind the recall, still has a donor pages for Sens. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and Kerry Donovan (D-Vail). However, the local leader of the nascent movement to recall Donovan recently posted on Facebook that “it seems the effort is dying as more people are refusing to help or won’t volunteer.”
That’s the late-breaking word this afternoon from the Colorado Secretary of State–after a 60-day period to collect 11,304 signatures in the case of Sen. Pete Lee and the recall petition against Sen. Brittany Pettersen nearing its deadline next week, both campaigns are announcing failure–via Colorado Public Radio’sBente Birkeland:
NOW : Recall efforts over for Senators Lee and Pettersen “Recall Et All is suspending the recall campaigns for Senators Pete Lee (SD11) and Brittany Pettersen (SD22). We are confident in the success of our future efforts to recall both of these elected officials.” #copolitics