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FOUNDED IN 1898 h VOL. 114, NO. 24 h DENVER, CO h JUNE 14, 2013 ©

THIS WEEK’S ISSUE:

$2.00

Giron faces possible recall fate Fulton: Simpler regs needed to keep on trucking — Page 3

BY PETER MARCUS THE COLORADO STATESMAN

A second state lawmaker is staring down the barrel of a recall election after proponents turned in about 2,300 more signatures than needed to oust Democratic Sen. Angela Giron of Sen. Angela Giron Pueblo over her support for gun control. Whether the trigger is pulled on the recall election depends on if the secretary of state’s office validates the

Hudson: School finance could affect 2014’s ballot — Page 4

hhh POLITI h

FL I X by DOUG YOUNG

Doug Young’s ‘Critical pro and Khan’ in Politi-Flix — Page 19

Next Week’s Issue: See our special wrap-up of all the 2013 legislative enactments.

Become our fan on Facebook The Colorado Statesman Follow us on @ ColoStatesman Visit our website: coloradostatesman.com

‘Honey Badger’ Gessler provides juicy chow for political hounds

Continued on Page 2

The Ethics Commission: What a joke!

Two days after the independent ethics committee admonished Secretary of State Scott Gessler for “betraying the public trust for private gain” for using funds from his office’s discretionary account to attend last summer’s Republican National Lawyers Association conference in Florida, Gessler, above, attended a ‘Honey Badger’ roast in his honor where he talked about his likely campaign for governor in 2014. Colorado’s chief elections official earned the ‘Honey Badger’ nickname for his weasley and tenacious nature. At right, Gessler’s wife Kristi is served honey badger prepared by Ron Michel, who supposedly cooked up the treat from roadkill. — See pages 10-11 for more juicy tidbits.

Much ado about nothing in case against Scott Gessler? BY MILLER HUDSON THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Until Ronald Reagan defeated him in the 1970 Governor’s race, Jesse Unruh was the long serving, allpowerful, iron fisted Speaker of the California State Assembly. He is best remembered today for his wry observation that, “If you can’t drink a lobbyist’s whiskey, take his money,

PHOTOS BY JODY HOPE STROGOFF/ THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Continued on Page 18

Salazar makes the case for controversial fracking Former Interior Secretary addresses Wirth sustainability awards BY PETER MARCUS THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Recently retired Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made the case for hydraulic fracturing June 10 in Denver, suggesting that the controversial drilling technology is helping to wean the nation off of foreign oil supplies. Salazar, who stepped down from his post with President Barack Obama’s administration in April after running the department for more than four years, spoke at the Wirth Chair Sustainability Awards at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Denver. The Wirth Chair in Sustainable Development was created in 1983 within the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs to help advance a message of sustainable development.

The former Colorado U.S. senator’s remarks came just days after he announced that he is joining the law firm WilmerHale as a partner at its newly created Denver office. As part of his duties, he will handle energy, environment and natural resources issues, drawing upon his experience overseeing such work for the nation as interior secretary. Salazar pointed to significant progress in lowering the nation’s demand for foreign oil, pointing out that in 2005, the United States was importing 60 percent of its oil, while today the nation is importing less than 40 percent of its oil. “We have come a long way in achieving those policy objectives,” stated Salazar. He said there are several reasons Continued on Page 9

Former U.S. Sen. Tim Wirth, left, and recently retired Interior Secretary Ken Salazar participate in a panel discussion June 10 at the Four Seasons Denver on hydraulic fracturing. PHOTO

BY

UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS/UNIVERSITY

OF

COLORADO DENVER


PAGE 2 ★ THE COLORADO STATESMAN ★ JUNE 14, 2013 “Father! – To God himself we cannot give a holier name.” — William Wordsworth

...Giron is second Dem targeted with recall Continued from Page 1

13,570 signatures submitted by proponents on Monday. They need 11,285 valid signatures, which represents 25 percent of the votes cast for Giron’s seat in 2010. The secretary’s office has 15 days to validate. There is then a 15day appeal period and stakeholders can also petition the courts. Recall petitions often have a high number of invalid signatures, so proponents themselves acknowledge they are cutting it close. But proponents say volunteers painstakingly collected signatures and crosschecked information with voter registration databases, providing them a greater sense of hope. “We hit 20 percent… over the minimum and we feel pretty comfortable with that,” explained Victor Head, who is leading the charge against Giron. “I don’t foresee more than 10 percent getting kicked out… We checked every signature against the voter registry.” Giron has become the second Democratic state lawmaker targeted over gun control after proponents in Colorado Springs last week handed in signatures to recall Senate President John Morse. Other Democrats were targeted, including Sen. Evie Hudak of Westminster and Reps. Mike McLachlan of Durango and Rhonda Fields of Aurora. But those efforts fell flat. Head said Senate District 3 in Pueblo is different than other Democratic strongholds because the gun issue crosses partisan lines. He points out that both Democrats and Republicans signed the petition. Unlike the recall effort in Colorado Springs, proponents did not have significant financial backing. The issue committee established to force the recall, Pueblo Freedom and Rights, reported contributions of just $10,688 in its two filings in April and May. A third report is due on June 24. Recall proponents in Colorado Springs raised about $71,500 in contributions, as of the latest filings. I Am Created Equal, a conservative Colorado Springs-based group, has buoyed them by donating $56,798 to pay for petition gathering. But in Pueblo, proponents did not pay for signature gathering, instead relying on grassroots support. Head, a plumber who lives in Pueblo, said volunteers were empowered after the Democratic-controlled legislature this year passed a package of gun control measures, including prohibiting highcapacity ammunition magazines of more than 15 rounds and requiring universal background checks and fees. “It was the only thing where they actually felt like they were making a

difference,” Head explained of the recall effort. “We all made phone calls to [lawmakers]… we sent our e-mails… we showed up at the Capitol, some of us tried to testify at Committee hearings, we had rallies, we waved flags. “None of it mattered,” Head continued. “They didn’t listen to us and they passed everything. But this one little recall is the one thing where they have to listen to this. This is an actual legitimate procedure.” In comparison, Giron has been assisted by big outside money from leftleaning groups, including $35,000 from the Washington, D.C.-based Sixteen Thirty Fund; $20,000 from Denverbased Citizens for Integrity; and $15,000 from Mainstream Colorado. The donations are similar to support sent to Morse’s effort.

non-profit work, as well as her commitment to helping under-served children. Sargeant also defended Giron for having sponsored legislation that will reform elections in Colorado by expanding access and permitting sameday voter registration. He also lauded her for supporting civil unions legislation that affords same-sex couples legal rights. “Extremists are attacking Sen. Giron because she successfully sponsored legislation that will increase voter participation in Colorado, and she supported legislation that would grant equal benefits to the state’s gay and lesbian couples as well as the new legislation that will reduce gun violence in her district and throughout Colorado. “The DLCC is committed to ensuring that committed public servants like Sen. Giron and Sen. Morse are was surprised at how racially charged not removed this issue is and I do think that me from office by being a Latina, a Mexican American, that fanatics seeking to intimidate they don’t even think I should have this legislators in position.” Colorado and — Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo throughout the country who’ve stood up to In all, Pueblo United for Angela has reduce violence, remove barriers to received $71,693, according to the voting, and ensure that all citizens are latest filings. But she does not believe treated equally under the law,” the outside support is problematic. Sargeant continued. Giron says the reason outside support is pouring in is because gun control is A nasty election ahead? an important national issue. Giron questions just how much “I got e-mails from people all across money Pueblo Freedom and Rights this country,” Giron said. “People care actually has. The group’s disclosures about it, and I also believe that in contain non-itemized filings. Giron’s Colorado people understand the posicampaign has filed an ethics complaint tion we’ve been in with the two biggest against Pueblo Freedom and Rights for tragedies that have happened, and they having monetary filings that exceed the wanted us to do something… $20 limit for remaining anonymous. “We know that 90 percent of people, For example, the group reported including NRA members, believe we receiving donations of $1,017 and should have background checks, and $1,807 without disclosing its source. then you have these people who don’t “They have money, they’re just not want any piece of any legislation, which transparent enough,” declared Giron. is sad that we can’t compromise,” She believes the recall effort has Giron continued. been disingenuous, suggesting that She said she has gone out of her way proponents have been spreading false to work with gun rights supporters, information, including that the gun even going shooting at a range for the control legislation would take away first time with a group of women after people’s guns. Proponents, however, say being invited following a town hall they have not been disseminating falsemeeting. hoods, but that some people may “I was really good, and it was kind of simply be misinformed. fun,” boasted Giron. More concerning to Giron is what Highlighting the national implicashe sees as racial and misogynistic tion of the race was a news release undertone to the effort. The senator issued by the Democratic Legislative alleged that recall volunteers have been Campaign Committee on Monday, in remarking on her Latino background, which Executive Director Michael as well as her abilities as a female Sargeant affirmed the committee’s lawmaker. She said some have even support for Giron. He pointed to her suggested that they need guns to protect themselves against a potential immigrant uprising. “One woman said, ‘We need that 16th round because of home invasion,’” recalled Giron. “And another said, ‘Because when the immigrants come…’ And I’m like, ‘Excuse me!’ “They’re fearful that the immigrants are going to come and invade your home,” she continued. “And I think the recall people really play on that a lot. “I was surprised at how racially charged this issue is and I do think that me being a Latina, a Mexican American, that they don’t even think I should have this position,” added Giron. “It’s sexist and ethnically based, they think I should know my place and you shouldn’t be in that.” She said her volunteers have heard people yelling at them that Giron should be deported. “My standing there as a Latina and proud of my heritage, that incites them and makes them very paranoid and nervous,” said Giron. Head said he has not seen or heard any reports of disparaging comments, adding that the effort has been largely cordial. “It hasn’t been nasty like that at all

“I

Continued on Page 20

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PAGE 20 ★ THE COLORADO STATESMAN ★ JUNE 14, 2013 “My father was my teacher. But most importantly he was a great day.” — Beau Bridges

...Republicans chide Giron for having Denver press conference Continued from Page 2

…” he said. Giron has also been critical of the recall effort as a whole, suggesting that it is an expensive start on a slippery slope to threaten recall simply because a group of people disagree with a policy position. Instead, recalls should be used for ethics and criminal violations, say Giron and her supporters. They point out that the election would cost about $150,000. But Head said policy is exactly why there are recalls. He said law enforcement investigates crimes, and committees examine ethics complaints. But the people must act when lawmakers are believed to vote against the will of constituents. “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Head said when told that Giron’s supporters question the need for the recall effort. “The overall picture is that she didn’t represent the district,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter if it’s guns, or water rights, or agriculture, or

labor, or immigration, or whatever … She didn’t represent the district.” Head pointed out that Giron held a news conference to respond to the petition drive in Denver on Monday at the Colorado Democratic Party’s headquarters. He believes she did so because she doesn’t truly represent Pueblo.

Denver on Monday for the Colorado Elections Commission, of which she is co-chair. “So, they don’t want me to work?” asked Giron. “They have made a distraction, but I’m not going to let it get in the way of the work that I need to do for Pueblo, and so I have to go up to Denver on a regular basis t doesn’t matter if it’s guns, or water on my own dime rights, or agriculture, or labor, or for a lot of the meetings I have,” immigration, or whatever … She didn’t she continued. represent the district.” “I know I — Victor Head voted my district,” Giron added. “I grew up “That’s where she takes her orders in Pueblo; I know Pueblo; I feel very from, and that’s who she voted with comfortable that what I supported was was with her Denver higher-ups, and so what Pueblo’s values are.” it makes sense to me, if that’s where she’s getting her orders from,” Sticking out the race remarked Head. “I guess she might as well have it there, she’s definitely not Giron says she plans on sticking out listening to her district.” the race, but that it is premature to Giron said she had a meeting in speculate because signatures still need

“I

to be verified. She would be given five days from when the secretary of state’s office certifies the election to decide whether to resign office. In Colorado Springs, the idea of having Morse resign has been floated as a way to keep the seat in Democratic hands. If either Giron or Morse resign, then a vacancy committee would be established and Democrats would preserve the seat. Giron said she isn’t ready to even consider such an idea. “I have tremendous support from the Democratic Party, so that will just have to be talked about as we go further, when we see the signatures and what kind of strategy,” she said. “I feel extremely supported.” Giron joked that the recall effort has actually increased her name recognition because of seven billboards placed around the district: “I’ll tell you, people actually know how to pronounce my name now,” she chuckled. The Pueblo County Democratic Party said that for the moment, it is continuing to fight for Giron, and that it has not considered alternate candidates. The election itself would be two-part. First it would include a “yes” or “no” question on whether to recall Giron. Then it would contain a list of candidates to replace her. Candidates must collect 1,000 signatures to make the recall ballot. “At this point we’re still right behind Angela and we will continue to be so until I hear something different,” said Ron Greenwell, chairman of Pueblo County Democrats. Greenwell would not speculate on the outcome of the election until after he sees the signatures turned in to the secretary of state’s office: “We’ll have to take a look at the signatures, and if there’s a high percentage of Democrats, then that would basically alert us to something that maybe we’re not in tune with what the Democrats want in this area,” said Greenwell. Meanwhile, Republicans say they would like to rally behind a single candidate. George Rivera, a retired Pueblo Police Department deputy chief and a blues musician, has already filed to challenge Giron in 2014. He said he would gladly add his name to the recall election if it is certified. Rivera notes that the district leans Democratic, but he believes the tide is shifting: “I think this election is rather unique… The Democrats have kind of overstepped their bounds,” he remarked. “From what I’ve heard and from what I’ve seen, not just on the gun recall but on other issues, they’ve pretty much gone their own way and decided that they know best for the state regardless of what other folks… the Republican side, the opposing side, [say], and people know that this is what they’re doing up there, and I think they’re getting very concerned,” added Rivera. Becky Mizel, chairwoman of the Pueblo County Republican Party, said the GOP is getting very excited about Rivera. She said opposition to Giron is mounting, especially after she supported raising the rural renewable energy standard, which is expected to increase utility rates. “She has not been a friend to rural Colorado,” said Mizel. “The vote she helped pass with the green energy bill will directly impact farmers. All of her constituents said, ‘Please do not get on board with that because that is really going to hurt the farming community and hurt food prices.’” Mizel thinks Republicans in Pueblo have their best shot in years: “We were highly supportive of the effort because we don’t like seeing what’s happening in Pueblo County,” she said. “Leadership has not worked well for us at all.” — Peetr@coloradostatesman.com

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