Sex Offenders, Thieves Hired to Collect Signatures for Ballot

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Last night, I wrote a diary here on ColoradoPols highlighting complaints filed against Initiatives 53 and 59, as well as Amendment 47, for alleged fraud during the petition gathering process.

Today, the whole petitioning situation got even more, well, criminal. According to 9News, some companies hired to gather signatures for ballot initiatives in Colorado this year and in years past may have hired convicted criminals to collect petition signatures:

9NEWS found signature gatherers convicted of sexual assault on a child, theft, harassment, trespassing and drug possession. Most signature gatherers are hired by private companies and paid for each signature they receive.

People who sign petitions are required to give their name, signature and their home address.

And worse?


9NEWS talked to some companies who hire signature gatherers. Each company 9NEWS spoke with said it does not do background checks on employees hired to help get initiatives on Colorado’s ballot.

This is completely outrageous. It’s bad enough for these signature gatherers to be engaging in the sort fraudulent behavior I mentioned in my diary yesterday, but knowing that it’s convicted criminals collecting your sensitive personal information takes this to a whole new level. Personal information already falls into the hands of identity thieves too easily in this day and age, and now unsuspecting Coloradans may have voluntarily handed it over simply by signing a petition.

The thing that really gets me about this is that some of these criminals were people convicted of theft, trespassing, and sexual assault on a child. I’m sure that most of you have been approached by people gathering signatures for something while out with your kids at the mall or grocery store. How terrifying to think that the person who claimed to be just a volunteer or activist was actually a child molester. And that you, simply by signing a petition, just gave that person information about where you live and where your children sleep at night.  

Any ballot initiative or amendment campaign that has or is using one of these companies needs to fire them and start all over.

A simple background check on your petition circulators might be a good place to start.  

30 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. "The Blonde" says:

    Thanks to Gov. Ritter they can go into the bathrooms to collect signatures too!

  2. parsingreality says:

    After all, your name, address, and phone number can be found, oh, in the phone book.  

    True, a pretty woman’s name doesn’t have her picture in the phone book.  And I don’t have a problem with people trying to make an honest buck. But maybe than could not hire people who have been convicted of crimes against people, as compared to property.  

  3. One Queer Dude says:

       Is one of these initiatives being pushed by a member of the Coors family?  One of the anti-labor one?

    • bob ewegen says:

      channeled $200,000 to the right to work drive.  Exactly where that family money came from doesn’t have to be disclosed, OQD.

    • GoBuffs says:

      Coors is linked to #47, right?

      And the story says it’s only SOME initiative campaigns using criminals, not all:

      Thursday, Mike Cerbo from Colorado AFL-CIO, which is a member of the coalition Protect Colorado’s Future, said anyone who gathers signatures for Protect Colorado’s Future has undergone background checks.

      Cerbo told 9NEWS that Protect Colorado’s Future is currently circulating petitions for Initiatives 74 and 76.

      No signature gatherers for Initiatives 74 and 76 have criminal records, Cerbo said.

  4. waltzeswithdog says:

    The only legal requirements for petition circulators is they be 18, a US citizen and a Colorado resident. So, being a criminal of any kind is not a reason to throw out petitions or signatures.  yes, they do get personal information, and I do think there may be people who use that information in frightening ways.  But, there is no current legal requirement governing this.  Also, this is a very high turn-over occupation, and very hard for these firms to keep people.  This is a relatively low-skilled job which could provide much needed employment to a person coming out of prison.  The need for jobs for ex-offenders should be balanced with safety concerns.  And, as previously posted perhaps these firms should screen out crimes against persons, especially sex offenders.  

  5. But as convicted felons, were these people ineligible to collect signatures, or is this just about the concern of having people who might have had a history where they might have been prone to abuse this type of information?

    • RedGreen says:

      I don’t think the 9News story or the diary makes the claim they were convicted felons, though doubtless some were.

      I don’t run with a rough crowd, by any means, but my college roommate from years ago has a trespassing conviction on his record, for chasing the ducks at the Broadmoor after some shindig at the hotel. Now he runs a wildly successful Internet branding company.

      There are probably some terrible crimes in the background of some of gatherers, but are we really saying that anyone with a misdemeanor theft or under an ounce of pot conviction can’t get a temp job gathering signatures? Is that seriously what anyone’s suggesting?

      • Is there any reason why these people were doing this illegally, or does this not relate to the fraud complaints at all?

        IMHO, when someone completes their sentence, then they have repaid their debt to society.  Absent extenuating circumstances, I don’t think they should be punished for the rest of their lives through denial of the right to vote or otherwise participate in civil society.

        waltzes, above, says they only have to be citizens and residents of the state in order to gather signatures.  To me, that would indicate that the 9News story is more social pressure than anything particularly juicy on the case against these initiatives.

        • RedGreen says:

          This story is just intended to embarrass these particular ballot measures, it doesn’t mean anything. Scratch any pool of temporary, low-skilled workers and you’ll find some minor offenses. Fraud or perjury convictions might be pertinent to this job — otherwise, the waiter taking your credit card up to the register to pay your restaurant bill has a better opportunity for identity theft. This is silly.

          • DavidThi808 says:

            a group of us was eating lunch at a cafeteria and at the next table was a bunch of movers (for moving groups to different offices). The movers were all discussing the pluses & minuses of the various prisons in the state.

            • RedGreen says:

              a group of Republican elected officials from Alaska.  

            • parsingreality says:

              …of a good friend of mine did something stupid and he wound up in the Ventura County jail for ten days before I could get bail up for him.

              He’s a wonderful observer of the human condition, and that was one of them.  The jail birds sit around and discuss the pro’s and con’s of the various facilities around the state like it was an AAA tour or something.

              Another thing he noticed was a lack of being able to think forward, which might certainly explain why most deterrents don’e work.  A guy had just been sentenced to 30 years and when my friend pointed out that he would by, maybe 62 when he was released, the guy was astounded.  

  6. DavidThi808 says:

    However, what’s to stop someone from pretending to be gathering signatures who is really just looking for targets. No checking system covers that case.

    On the flip side, as was posted above, your info is out there so all this gives someone is a face to go with the info. Still worrisome but if this avenue had been used by any low-life, it almost certainly would have hit the news.

    So it’s probably safe to say that it’s very unlikely.

  7. ohwilleke says:

    People with criminal records, including people who have felony records, can vote in Colorado, so long as they have completed parole terms, if any, and are not currently incarcerated.

    I’m not aware of any law that requires petition signature collectors to be given criminal background checks.

    Perhaps there is, I haven’t looked it up and I haven’t ever had occassion to do so.

    But, there is no terribly good reason from precluding petition signature gatherers, who usually do their work in public view, in public places, from adults registered voters, from having never had brushes with the law in their lives.

    God forbid that someone who has shoplifted, or stolen a car a decade ago, or been caught smoking pot, or was present on somebody else’s property without permission ever collect a signature in his life?

  8. bartlet says:

    9News went after specific individuals who have criminal records and released their names and photos, but failed to explain which specific companies they work for or what specific ballot issues these guys were collecting for.

    I think the real issue, which 9News glossed over and didn’t plunge into at all, is that this just raises more questions about how the initiative process has been corrupted by paid signature gathering firms who don’t give a crap about whether it’s done the right way. It makes sense that they’re hiring criminals if their primary objective is to gather the required number of signatures no matter the means.  

    I should note, though, that not all signature collecting companies have complaints lodged against them; some do require background checks and require their employees to follow the law.

  9. Mtnmike293 says:

    For those of you who claim paranoia on the part of those who are disturbed by this I offer the following:  

    If you think all they gather is your signature then you are mistaken.  They have your name, address, and signature.  If you are not concerned about convicted felons having your signature copied for the purpose of fraud or forgery; then you should be concerned about them having all of your data available to them.  

    In today’s world of identity theft and the availability to sell your data to criminals that will use it to do same is a fact.  These individuals have recently spent time in prison.  They form relationships there.  They have friends that travel in the same circle of society (criminal behaviors). These individuals are not being paid a whole lot for their efforts.  For some the temptation will be too great.  

    The bottom line is there needs to be standards in place that require background checks and disqualification for a felony conviction.  Leaving it up to companies such as Kennedy Enterprises or the Lamm Group is not working.  Expecting groups such as “Right To Work” with their amendment 47, 53 & 59, whose petitions this story was about, to make any effort to police the ethics of Kennedy Enterprises who they hired to gather those signatures and data is too much to expect.

    They are more concerned about getting those initiatives on the ballot than about the potential damage it may cause to those who signed their petitions.  They used Kennedy Enterprises because they have a reputation of delivering.  Their tactics in gathering petitions are so shady that the get the job done.  That reputation is well known in political circles in Colorado.

    There are a few firms out there that voluntarily do background checks and follow the rules laid out by state law.  They should not suffer because of this exposure.  They do it right.  However, as a result of their ethical stance they can’t deliver as well, or as quickly, as firms like Kennedy Enterprises that can cut its overhead and bring in signatures faster by not following the rules.  The bottom line is the group circulating amendments 47, 53 and 59 that are backed by the Coor’s family and other wealthy business ventures, know who they hired and could care less.  All they want is the maximum amount of signatures as quickly as possible.

  10. streetcleaner says:

    that were certified with the use of these former criminals.  Already there are allegations of fraud, and now this.  Makes the whole effort to pass 47, 53, and 59 that more difficult.

    Fine by me, as all those Amendments should be defeated.

  11. sxp151 says:

    is that the people asking you to sign the petitions often don’t tell you the truth about what you’re signing.

    After twice being asked to sign a petition for a ballot initiative, and being told that it was something totally different from what the written text actually said (once for the right-to-work thing, once for the anti-TABOR thing), I decided I won’t sign any more, whether I agree with the initiative or not.  

  12. protectcoloradosfuture says:

    Having sex offenders, thieves, forgers, and convicted assault criminals collect these signatures is a prime example of how deceptive these initiatives and amendments are. Do we really trust people to write these laws if they can’t do a simple back ground check on the people who collect the personal information of the citizens they represent?

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