Recall petition declared invalid based on technical errors

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RBC | After a lengthy hearing Thursday, May 6, challenging the validity of the recall petition against RBC Commissioner Gary Moyer, designated hearing officer Timothy Graves ruled against the petition proponents, declaring the recall invalid due to a technical error in the petition circulation process.

As per Colorado Revised Statutes, petition sections are required to be pre-numbered serially, additionally, a printer’s proof must be provided to the clerk. Since these requirements were not met, the petition was declared invalid.

The decision, sent out by Graves on Sunday afternoon states, “The language of C.R.S. 31-11-106(5) is unequivocal and mandatory, a petition failing to conform to the requirements of statute shall be invalid.” Tt also says, “The Legislature specifically noted that the requirements of Article 11 of Title 31 are not limitations but rather safeguards to the process. The Petition must be declared invalid.”

Moyer and fellow protestors did not attend the hearing in person, instead calling in via internet video call. Their other challenges to the recall petition’s validity included accusations that proper notice was not provided to Moyer prior to circulation, that it contained false statements in its grounds for recall, and that a number of signatures needed to be disqualified for various reasons.

During the hearing, recall proponents acknowledged certain signatures should be invalidated, including 17 that were notarized by RBC Clerk and Recorder Boots Campbell, because she failed to properly file a section of the petition, and because her own signature was on the same page. 

Protestors argued that because she signed the petition, Campbell had “a personal interest in the outcome of the recall and that this is a disqualifying interest.” A point they used to challenge the validity of an additional 318 signatures notarized by the clerk.

Judge Graves ruled Campbell’s decision to sign the petition did not count as a “disqualifying interest.” Grave’s order states, “The court heard no testimony that Ms. Campbell has a financial or other direct interest in the outcome of the Petition, other than the interest held by every citizen of Rio Blanco County. The fact that Ms. Campbell notarized other copies of the Petition does not render them invalid as she is not named in those particular records and has no improper interest in those particular records. “

Proponents also agreed to invalidate a few other signatures for technical reasons. Following those, there were still enough remaining to proceed with the recall, if not for the noted technical issues with the petition process.

Recall protestors also argued that Campbell “did not mail the written petition approval on Feb. 26, 2021, and did not affix her signature and approval until May 2, 2021.” Another challenge stated that “the Petition format was not approved, nor was notice provided to Protestor Moyer prior to circulation.” The court ruled against both of these challenges, noting that protestors failed to prove them “by a preponderance of the evidence.“

The other main argument against the petition was that the grounds for the recall contained false statements, including, “That Mr. Moyer terminated a county employee in his capacity as County Commissioner and that Mr. Moyer was instrumental in an attempt to close a county dispatch center without allowing citizens and governmental departments the opportunity to comment on the closure.“

The judge ruled against this challenge as well, noting “the ground did not state that Mr. Moyer acted unilaterally in the termination of county employees but rather that the termination of county employees was done without proper care or regard for the situation,” and adding in regards to the dispatch center that, “By virtue of his position as a County Commissioner, Mr. Moyer was involved in the decision-making process on whether or not the dispatch center should be closed.“ Ultimately the court found that the original grounds for recall did not in fact contain false statements.

Protestors did not challenge other grounds for the recall including allegations by former road and bridge director Dave Morlan that “Moyer verbally abused and made unsubstantiated accusations against Public Health Nurse Alice Harvey in a public meeting on Feb. 9, 2021,” and that Moyer “repeatedly demonstrated a total lack of transparency in the manner in which he has conducted County business.”

You can read the full text of the ruling, including more details on the hearing results at this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1G5HNwQwxdnZs6dxosutg8BbY2BHz5OnH/view?usp=sharing

You can also watch the entire hearing on Rio Blanco County’s youtube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwitX_Ju8MM


By LUCAS TURNER | lucas@ht1885.com

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