The newly formed nonprofit group Colorado Springs Government Watch has jumped into the recall effort against City Councilwoman Helen Collins by paying folks to collect signatures.
The group’s executive director, Dede Laugesen (the wife of The Gazette’s Editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen), said that Government Watch is financing the signature collectors in the recall effort because the group shares concerns of the citizens running the recall about Collins’ connections to Douglas Bruce, known as the father of Colorado’s tax limitation movement, and Bruce Nozolino, who was convicted of murder and attempted murder in March.
Laugesen said the Government Watch did not initiate the recall.
“Colorado Springs Government Watch is supplying petition gatherers,” Laugesen said.
Government Watch was formed in November. Its Facebook page says “our mission is to ensure local government is open, ethical and accountable to the public.”
Laugesen would not say who is funding the Government Watch group or name its board of directors. She did say “they are residents of Colorado Springs” and that the people involved in the group would be revealed soon.
Laugesen also would not say how much the group is paying the signature collectors in the recall effort. According to the City Clerk, the names of paid signature collectors must be turned in at the time of the recall petition. If the group is successful and the recall question gets on the April 7 ballot, the group would need to file campaign finance reports as an issue committee.
“If it’s going to be on the ballot, then they start filing with us,” said Sarah Johnson, Colorado Springs City Clerk.
In December, three residents – Deborah Hendrix, a former Harrison School District 2 board president, Victor Torres, president of the Harrison school board and Woody Longmire, the district’s coordinator of student services, filed an affidavit to start the recall.
They have until 5 p.m. Thursday to turn in 1,485 valid signatures from Collins’ District 4 if they want that recall question on the April 7 ballot.
Hendrix ran against Collins in District 4 in 2013. She also is on the board of directors of Colorado Springs Early Colleges, the schools run by Colorado Springs City Council president Keith King.
King said Tuesday that he did not know about the recall effort until the day before the paperwork was filed in the City Clerk’s office, Dec. 17.
“It is the strangest thing,” King said. “I told Deborah I was going to support Helen.”