As the Colorado Independent’s Tessa Cheek reports:
ON WEDNESDAY, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office signed off on ballot language for the state’s first-ever lawmaker recall election, where Democratic state Senate President John Morse will effectively face Republican City Council Member Bernie Herpin.
The Morse campaign doesn’t like the ballot language and believes the Republican secretary of state may have worked to tilt the scales in the race, stripping out language Morse submitted to be included.
But the Herpin campaign argues the Secretary didn’t go far enough. In a release the campaign charges that, in the language Morse submitted to the secretary, he “violated state law” by making false assertions about Herpin and about Basic Freedom Defense Fund — the group organized to promote recall of Morse mainly in response to his support for gun-control legislation last spring.
The recall campaigns, launched months ago, have been characterized by regularly erupting similar back-and-forths and there may be many more to come over the four weeks leading to Election Day on September 10.
Specifically, reports the Independent, GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s office “edited” two statements from Morse’s ballot language–an allegation about a “junket” de facto opponent Bernie Herpin took as a Colorado Springs city councilor, and an accusation that Herpin “opposed criminal background checks, a position so extreme it would allow felons and domestic abusers to buy guns.” We don’t know very much about the first allegation–we will soon enough–but on the matter of Herpin’s opposition to background checks, we can tell you that he is the founder of the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition. That organization certainly appears to oppose background checks:
Finally, we firmly believe that exercising one’s right to bear arms should not justify being identified on any government list, as precedence has shown time and again that agreeing to “reasonable controls” has only resulted in the continuing and irrevocable infringement by the government on the rights of the individual. [Pols emphasis]
Also, you can read Herpin’s own guest editorial against 2000′s Amendment 22, the initiative closing the “background check loophole” at gun shows passed with overwhelming voter support after the mass shooting at Columbine High School. It’s not available online anymore, but it’s not equivocal:
First, there is no such thing as a “gun-show loophole.” [Pols emphasis] Federal law explicitly and intentionally exempts the private sale of firearms from federal regulation. Lawmakers recognize that sales and exchanges of goods and services between private individuals are not subject to the control or scrutiny of the government. They also recognize that such laws are unenforceable at best and threats to personal liberty at worst.
This would seem to validate the charge that Herpin “opposes criminal background checks.”
Once you accept that, then yes, Gessler’s “edit” is a real problem. And Gessler’s well-earned reputation for shenanigans as the state’s chief elections officer makes it pretty easy to throw the penalty flag.