In a stunning announcement Sunday, state Rep. Rochelle Galindo, the Greeley Democrat facing a campaign to recall her from office, said she is resigning from the legislature immediately, citing unspecified allegations against her.
"The allegations against me are false," wrote Galindo, a former member of the Greeley City Council elected in November to represent Weld County's House District 50.
"That said," she continued, "they will make our fight against the pending recall effort untenable. I will not put my constituents through what will surely be a recall campaign based on political smear tactics and false allegations. Instead, I will resign my seat as the elected representative of House District 50, effective immediately."
Galindo tweeted on Sunday afternoon that it had been "the honor of my life" to serve House District 50. "I have served my community to the best of my ability," she added.
Speaker of the House KC Becker of Boulder confirmed Galindo's resignation and referred questions about the allegations to Galindo.
In a statement Sunday, Becker and House Majority Leader Alec Garnett of Denver said: “Today Rep. Galindo submitted a letter of resignation. We agree with Rep. Galindo's decision to step down at this time and allow someone else to serve the people of House District 50."
Galindo didn't respond to requests for comment from Colorado Politics.
Her resignation now, instead of waiting for a possible recall election, means a Democratic vacancy committee will name Galindo's replacement. If Galindo had stayed in office, both Republicans and Democrats could have run for the seat in a recall election.
Organizers behind the recall campaign told Colorado Politics on Sunday that they have gathered nearly enough signatures to send the recall to the ballot.
"We have over 5,000 verified signatures already,” said Jefferson Thomas, the Republican consultant running the recall effort. "Whatever she's referring to — she's not stupid; she's seen the signature-gatherers out there.”
Galindo's critics would have had until June 3 to gather 5,696 valid signatures to place the recall on the ballot — 25 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for her office.
"This is the first win of the recall season," said Dudley Brown, executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and president of the National Association of Gun Rights.
Brown, a hard-line defender of Second Amendment rights, was among several high-profile conservative activists working to recall Galindo.
Last week, at a press conference announcing a lawsuit seeking to overturn gun-control legislation passed this year with Galindo's support, Brown said organizers plan to target as many as a dozen Democratic lawmakers with recalls.
Galindo won election in the Democratic-leaning district by a 6.7 percentage point margin over Republican Michael Thuener. That win came after she defeated former state Rep. Jim Riesberg in the June primary.
Galindo came under fire early for her support of Senate Bill 181, legislation to overhaul how the state regulates the oil and gas industry, which Gov. Jared Polis has signed into law.
She also sponsored measures in the 2019 session to repeal prohibitions that banned local governments from setting their own minimum wages; reauthorize a state resiliency office, which was set up after the 2013 floods and was due to end in June; and a measure to create a transition office for those in the coal mining industry.
Organizers got the go-ahead to start circulating recall petitions April 4. The recall effort targets Galindo specifically; any effort to recall her successor would require a new petition drive.
The petition charges Galindo with “fail[ing] to understand legislation negatively impacting her community and constituents,” pointing to her position on "oil and gas legislation," meaning SB 181.
In a statement to Colorado Politics, Thomas said the committee behind the recall effort was confident the recall was headed toward the ballot.
"While we've just been made aware that Rep. Galindo is resigning under a vague reference to 'allegations,' we don't have any comment on the allegations she referenced in her resignation email,” Thomas said.
Thomas continued: "We are committed to making sure House District 50 finally secures the representation that we deserve. We looked forward to having public discussion about former Rep. Galindo's lack of representation and policy positions that were in direct contradiction to the wishes and economic welfare of our community. We've seen overwhelming support from Weld County and, specifically, the over 5,000 House District 50 residents who, in just one month, have signed our recall petition."
Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman Morgan Carroll said in a written statement to Colorado Politics: “We are aware of Representative Rochelle Galindo's decision to resign her seat. We support her decision. We will be on hand to help guide House District 50 Democrats through the vacancy process to select a new state representative.”
In 2013, Colorado voters recalled two Democratic state senators — Senate President John Morse of Fountain and state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo — citing their support for gun-safety legislation that opponents argued infringed on their Second Amendment rights.
Later that same year, Democratic state Sen. Evie Hudak of Arvada resigned in the face of a threatened recall, allowing a Democratic vacancy committee to name her replacement — keeping the seat in Democrats' hands rather than risk a recall election that could have led to the election of a Republican.
Emerge Colorado, which recruits women to run for elected office, blasted those behind the recall on Sunday in a statement it later withdrew.
“Representative Galindo was bullied into resigning by bigots in her district that didn’t like seeing a young woman of color, let alone a gay woman, in office," said Emerge Colorado Executive Director Michal Rosenoer in the statement.
"The Republican party in Colorado has been bleeding voters for years," Rosenoer added. "So rather than winning elections fair and square, they’ve turned to using recalls backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money to intimidate legislators. This is yet another dark stain on the Colorado GOP and a sad day for Colorado’s democracy.”
Galindo was among 15 Emerge alumnae in the state House and Senate in 2019.
Ninety minutes after the original statement, Emerge Colorado said: "In light of allegations against Rep. Rochelle Galindo, we are redacting our statement."
A spokesman for Democracy First Colorado, an issue committee formed to defend Galindo and other state Democrats from recalls, declined to comment on Galindo’s abrupt resignation.
According to campaign finance documents, the committee had raised $75,001 through April 8 — $75,000 of that in a single donation from Washington,D.C.-based America Votes.
The spokesman for Our Colorado Way of Life, another committee formed to oppose recall campaigns aimed at Democratic legislators, didn't respond to a request for comment.
Our Colorado Way of Life reported taking in $49,001 through April 23, including donations from the Colorado Democratic Party, the national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and environmental and teachers union groups.
This is a developing story and will be updated.