As Liam Adams of the Colorado Community Newspapers affiliate Westminster Window reports–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.
“Honey Badger,” well and truly, doesn’t give a shit.
Someone needs to explain this to me:
– If a person is being recalled, they are in office and were elected by the majority of voters.
– If a recall election occurs, all taxpayers (I realize many taxpayers do not vote) are held responsible for the costs of the recall election. That said, the majority of voting taxpayers are being required to pay for a recall election that they may not agree with.
What I need to have explained is why are recall elections not required to fund the entire process themselves?
I don't know the answer PMan,but that is a very good question. Lately recalls are nothing more than silly grandstanding exercises in futility. Why should tax dollars be wasted on them ?
Recall elections were a Progressive Movement innovation … "Progressives wanted to strengthen the control of the people over the levers of government, while reducing the influence of the special interests, and the recall power was one way of accomplishing this goal." Constitutions allow for impeachment for crimes or corruption; the recall was an equivalent power for the people — some thought the legislatures would be incapable of rendering nonpartisan verdicts (imagine!). .
The question of gauging when there is "enough" of a reason for recall is inherently political. If the system required putting up money for the cost of the election, only (relatively) affluent people or organizations would be able to afford the efforts.
Reforms I've seen mentioned are
* increasing the number of signatures needed to a substantial proportion of those voting to elect the official. Colorado currently says 25%, some have suggested pushing it up.
* having the vote limited to a "regularly scheduled" elections covering the district, thus avoiding "extra" expense and probably insuring a more extensive group of citizens voting.
I too have a question, maybe rhetorical. What kind of campaign spends most of its contributions on an attorney?
If memory serves, the city clerk in Westminster threw out about a third of the sigs on the proponents' petitions to get the recall on the ballot. The proponents sued, and the Adams County District Court ultimately decided that the clerk's reason for rejecting the signatures was illegitimate. I assume Money Badger was plaintiffs' counsel in that case. Still, the bill was pretty goddamn steep.
Money Badger – where have I heard that before? OK, that makes some sense. You've gotta get on the ballot in the first place.
Damned if I know.
Pman, I looked in the Colorado Constitution: Article 21, Section 4, page 202 of this pdf at this link, which gives you the US founding documents, as well.
The only notation under expenses of recalls is that, in the event of a failed recall, the officer not recalled can be reimbursed for their expenses by the taxpayers.
Other than that, the Colorado Constitution leaves it up to local governments and the state legislature regarding who pays for recalls. It looks like our state leg is on the case.
. One fun fact I didn’t know: if Jared Polis were ever actually recalled, his Lieutenant Governor, Diane Primavera, would assume his duties. So they’d swap a libertarian liberal for a public health care advocate!😆
In the Westminster case, it will probably be the Westminster city taxpayers who foot the bill. But you should look up your Westminster city council docs to be sure. The recalls of Giron and Morse in 2013 were paid for initially out of the City Election Clerk’s budget, which he was not happy about, but were ultimately reimbursed by the General Fund of Colorado,
The Green Mountain Water District has an upcoming recall of three board members, although not one successor candidate has stepped forward. That $80,000 bill will be borne ultimately by GMWD customers.
Thanks for the links, kwtree. I will look into them. Maybe recall efforts should be required to establish escrow accounts to cover the public costs? Win or lose, they pay up. Obviously, they can pay on their own dime whatever lawyer they choose.
I think escrow accounts for wannabe recallers is a great idea. Doesn’t have to be a ruinous amount. 10% of estimated costs required upfront should pop a lot of those recall bubbles. Pitch it to your state rep for the next session.
Recalls are clearly the Colorado GOP’s last stand. They can’t run electable candidates. They have no coherent message. All they have is a stream of Qanon crap, the Big Lie, and racial fear and division.
Make them put their money where their mouth is.
You people need to get a grip.
$20K+ for the Honey Badger is not real money.
It is peanuts.
To most folks, $20k is nothing to sneeze at.
Aren't you the guy, or gal, that posts the "Today is…..day", every day? Maybe tomorrow you can declare it "Get a Grip On It Day". Just don't post any pics of you "getting a grip" on it.
“Gessler’s treachery to society“
Exaggerate much? Give me a break.
"treachery to society……" I tend to ignore idiotic comments like that.
It's too bad that the writer chose to mix in such b.s. with actual facts.
He pocketed 40 grand and cost Westminster $250,000. That's treachery in my book.
If you don't like the florid language the Guvs use, you could always write your own blog.
Fladen has been white knighting for Gessler since he was SoS. They're fellow legal beagles.
Scott Gessler, tireless champion of . . . ummm . . .
. . . Scott Gessler??
I’d call any public official who knew better and lied to the public (like Gessler did by promoting Trumpy election lies against the best voting system in the United States) a traitor, in that they have openly chosen treachery to their oath, and to their constituents.
In the immortal words of Peter Gibbons, "Fucking A."
Article III, Section 3, of the US Constitution has specific language regarding what constitutes treason. Suggest that you read it.
CHB if you read my reply nowhere did I say he should be brought up on Federal charges. You made that assumption. You do that a lot. I specifically said he was a traitor to his constituents and oath of office. Federal Treason is a whole other ballgame.