Colorado pol facing recall over gun control rails against NRA

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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Embattled Colorado Senate President John Morse took to Twitter on Tuesday to defend himself against opponents who turned in more than 16,000 signatures to force a recall election for his support of controversial new gun-control laws.

Although he’s spoken to various media organizations in recent days, taken together, the cluster of his tweets amount to one of the few official quasi-public statement he’s made about the recall effort, which needs only 7,178 valid signatures to proceed.

“I intend to fight this — we cannot allow outside interest groups to determine what is best for Colorado,” the final tweet reads.

He was presumably referring to the National Rifle Association, which contributed nearly $1,000 to the El Paso Freedom Defense Committee for mailers and phone banking in support of the recall effort.

But Morse, a Democrat, has also enjoyed the support of outside interest groups. The biggest contribution to the pro-Morse committee A Whole Lot of People for John Morse listed on its latest campaign finance report (also filed on Tuesday) was $35,000 from the Washington D.C.-based Sixteen Thirty Fund.

On its IRS 990 form, the fund lists in its mission statement the goal of “conducting advocacy regarding progressive policies.”

As a 501(c)4 organization, it’s not required to list its contributors.

The same is true of America Votes-Colorado, the local chapter of a D.C.-based organization that contributed $20,000 to the anti-recall effort during the previous reporting period.

Outside interests were also active in Colorado politics during the gun debate. Journalist Todd Shepherd, who runs the Complete Colorado website, wrote late Tuesday night that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper at two critical points during the gun debate — the first call, which lasted about 12 minutes, came on March 2, two days before the gun bills were to move to Senate committee hearings; the second, a five minute call, came on March 19, just before Hickenlooper signed three of the bills into law.

Shepherd based his reporting on phone records obtained from the governor’s office through the Colorado Open Records Act. Although the records don’t indicate what the mayor and the governor spoke about, Bloomberg is well known for supporting gun control. He is the driving force behind the pro gun-control organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

The Denver Post reports that Morse told reporters on a conference call Monday that he believed Mayors Against Illegal Guns would help his campaign if the secretary of state certifies enough petition signatures to allow the recall election to move forward.

Morse’s tweet was one of 10 he fired off in about a 45-minute period Tuesday morning — the first time he tweeted since Memorial Day. He references the Aurora theater and Newtown, Conn., shootings as motivating factors for his support of the new gun laws. And he vowed to win the gun-control fight “on the streets” after having already won it once in the Democratic-controlled state legislature.

The Daily Caller News Foundation compiled the tweets into one contiguous paragraph, with #coleg, #copolitics and #GunSafety hashtags removed for ease of reading. They have also been placed in the order in which they were sent. Visit Morse’s Twitter feed to see them in context.

In full, the tweets read:

“Less than 11 months ago – 70 people were shot in a movie theatre [SIC], 12 of them died. One of those victims tweeted before the movie – this is going to be the best BIRTHDAY ever… Then in December, the unthinkable happened. Children – 6 year olds – gunned down in a school by a teenager. How could I, as a legislator, say we should do nothing? Our opposition would like us to do nothing. To sit back & let this keep happening. My district includes the highest crime census track. Every day we listen to our television & see death in our community. It is most likely that death happened in my district: Fountain & Chelton, Astrozon & Academy, Monterey & Circle [these are intersections in Colorado Springs]. This is my district. I am not the type to sit back and watch – that is not what is expected of leaders. We won this fight once in the legislature, if necessary, we will win it again on the streets. I intend to fight this – we cannot allow outside interest groups to determine what is best for Colorado.”

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