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Maketa recall underway, Supreme Court says Gessler overstepped, Lamborn and Rayburn square off


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Maketa recall underway

Petitions to recall El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa were approved Friday, and by Monday morning, petitioners claimed they'd gathered 1,700 signatures of registered voters.

That's about 4 percent of the 44,373 required by July 12 to trigger a recall election in November.

Organizer Randy Stagner says to gather the target 50,000 signatures, circulators need only gather 2,000 per day. "I don't think that's going to be a problem," he says.

Stagner and a helper — Mac McCargar, who ran for sheriff in 2002 and has worked at the Sheriff's Office — say they're motivated to recall Maketa because he's admitted he departed from the truth. In a late May video statement to employees, Maketa said, "I engaged in inappropriate behavior in the past and when confronted about that behavior, I denied it." He doesn't specify which behavior he's talking about, but he's accused by staff of having sexual affairs with subordinates.

County commissioners and others say Maketa should resign, but the sheriff says he plans to serve out his term, which expires in January.

The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office says if enough signatures are gathered, successor candidates can file to run. To get on the ballot, a Republican would need 11,093 signatures, a Democratic or American Constitution candidate, 35,509 signatures, and an unaffiliated contender, 750 signatures.

If voters oust the sheriff at the November election, he would be removed after the results are certified, which can take a week or longer. Whoever wins as a successor candidate would serve the balance of the term. If no one runs, the office would be deemed vacant and county commissioners would appoint someone.

Republican Bill Elder is the only person running to succeed Maketa starting in January. — PZ

Court: Gessler overstepped

The Colorado Supreme Court says Secretary of State Scott Gessler overstepped the limits of his power in an attempt to grant more secrecy to big campaign donors.

The decision upholds rulings by the Colorado Court of Appeals and a lower court, in a complaint first brought by Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Ethics Watch.

Gessler had raised the disclosure threshold for donations to political issue committees from $200 to $5,000, allowing larger donations to be made in secret. The move was in violation of a constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2002, but Gessler, who has been a partisan secretary and is now running for the Republican nomination for governor, had said he believed decisions in federal courts allowed him to change the limits.

"Once again the courts have stated that the Secretary cannot act as both legislature and judge to overrule important disclosure provisions in the Colorado Constitution," Ethics Watch Staff Counsel Peg Perl states in a press release. "We are glad the Court has resolved this question so that issue committees working for and against initiatives on the 2014 ballot can comply with the law." — JAS

A CD5 debate, finally

After years of dodging debates with Republican challengers, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn faced off Monday with Bentley Rayburn, who's making his third try to unseat the four-term congressman.

Before a full house at Centennial Hall, the candidates wrestled for the position farthest to the right, with both expressing support for the unborn and military funding and opposing same-sex marriage.

While Lamborn accused Rayburn of having no record to stand on, Rayburn noted he spent more than 30 years in the military and managed a $17.2 billion budget as an Air Force major general.

Lamborn blamed the Senate for his inability to see his sponsored bills become law, saying 300 House bills are stuck in the upper chamber. And Rayburn, once again, apologized for a plagiarism incident in 2008, saying, "I made a mistake, and I owned up to it."

Responding to a question about climate change, Lamborn said he wants an "all of the above" energy policy that relies on renewables but also oil, gas and coal. Rayburn called for building the Keystone XL pipeline and seeking nuclear power opportunities.

A Rayburn win in Tuesday's primary election would be a major upset. He'd collected only $84,380 in campaign money as of June 4, which includes $9,697 from himself. Lamborn has raised $391,881, including a $100,000 loan from himself. Democrat Irv Halter has brought in $450,388, including $37,975 from himself. — PZ

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