Recall petitions Polis

The petitions to recall Gov. Jared Polis, but organizers fell short of the number required to put the recall on the ballot. Photo by Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics.

They’re baaaack.

The Resist Polis PAC, one of two groups that led the effort during the summer to collect petition signatures to recall Gov. Jared Polis, is taking another shot at political action and plan to take their fight to the state Capitol.

“Colorado Politics will never be the same again,” the Recall Polis website (which is run by the Resist Polis PAC) said as the group announced Monday that it  has rebranded itself as the Colorado Freedom Force.

It also registered a new independent expenditure committee called the Colorado Freedom Fund and is trying to persuade those who gave money, time and effort to keep up the fight, although whether another recall is on organizers’ minds isn’t clear.

And the group is already generating confusion, since the name of the independent expenditure committee is similar to a name used by  three other groups, including a Denver-based charity.

The charity's Colorado Freedom Fund is a group registered with the Secretary of State’s business filings that is dedicated to helping people who can’t afford bail to get out of jail.

“NOPE!” said a representative of the charity, when asked if they were affiliated with the Colorado Freedom Force. “We are absolutely not involved with any recall efforts against the governor — or anyone else,” the group said in an email to Colorado Politics.

Two other campaign finance committees with the same Colorado Freedom Fund name — one a political committee and the other a small donor committee — are listed in the Secretary of State’s TRACER campaign finance database. Those committees — both formed in 2015 — are based in Colorado Springs and support statewide candidates for the Colorado House, Colorado Senate and county commissioners, primarily Republican and unaffiliated candidates who support conservative values.

The Freedom Fund IEC says it will support “certain efforts of the Colorado Freedom Force, including the recalls of local and statewide elected officials regardless of party affiliation.”

The Fund’s registered agent, Nancy Palozzi, was a leader of the recall effort against Democratic state Sen. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood. The group abandoned the recall effort a week before petitions were due to the Secretary of State.

Whether previous supporters will be willing to go another round on recalls is up for debate. Comments on the group’s main Facebook page show many who are as committed as ever to the effort, but several indicated they are not quite ready to go for another recall. Said one, “I already donated and got robbed. Not going through that again.”

Linda Pieper commented on Recall Polis Facebook page, which doubles as the Freedom Force Facebook page, that “the first time was such a waste for all that worked so hard and long. I’m praying that this time will bring success in ridding our state of POLIS.” She later added that the waste she was referring to was not the effort itself. “The waste was how the dems hijacked and disrupted an honest and just cause,” she wrote.

And the confusion over just who did what is still apparent. Some said they had given to the recall group, when they meant the Official Recall Gov. Jared Polis group, which gave $11,000 of its donor money to its staff as gifts and was never involved in the petition effort during the summer.

Colorado Freedom Force’s unveiling was announced Monday by Jan Coombs-Cook, a political activist who co-founded Get Er Done Right Colorado last year. That group protested a proposed bill on supervised injection sites at last January’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade, which drew complaints about the timing, including from the Denver Republican Party.

In the Monday announcement, Coombs-Cook said the group’s mission is to "organize a grassroots army to protect Coloradans’ freedoms and respond to the radical agenda that’s being pushed" by Polis and Democratic leadership in the Legislature.

The website says that “tremendous lessons were learned during the recalls of 2019. Collectively, that experience is just the beginning of numerous possibilities.”

Those who join “the Force” would be an “essential part of Colorado’s statewide, standing army of freedom fighters, ready to take action to save our state.” The website suggests that the action could include gathering initiative or referendum petition signatures, testifying at the Capitol or educating voters about candidates.

As to donations, the website said Colorado Freedom Force has applied for 501(c)(4) status with the Internal Revenue Service. That’s a designation best known for social welfare organizations, and under IRS rules a social welfare organization may engage in “some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.” A 501(c)(4) designation means the group can also keep its donors confidential on IRS forms. But that isn’t the case for reporting within Colorado’s campaign finance system.

Last month, the Resist Polis PAC paid a $2,300 fine for failing to properly disclose donors who had contributed $20 in cash and received in exchange a “Polis Penny” that kept the donation under the minimum $20 for reporting donor information.

The announcement said the group will launch events during the Nov. 18 weekend and throughout the rest of the month.

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