June 4, 2013 Updated: June 5, 2013 at 9:34 am
The effort to recall Senate President John Morse has been aided by more than $71,000 in donations and in-kind contributions since mid-March, according to the latest financial report filed by El Paso Freedom Defense Fund.
The biggest chunk of that money - $56,798 - came from a Colorado Springs-based non-profit run by political consultant Laura Carno.
That money went directly to Kennedy Enterprises, a local company that handled the signature gathering operations of the El Paso Freedom Defense Fund.
Morse became the subject of scrutiny by the group and its Durango-based counter-part after he supported legislation to ban magazines that hold more than 15 bullets and pushed for a bill to require background checks on all gun sales.
The El Paso Freedom Defense Fund turned in more than 16,000 signatures Monday to the secretary of state's office, which has three weeks to verify whether at least 7,178 of those signatures came from within Morse's Senate District 11, which encompasses a huge swath of central and southwestern Colorado Springs.
The validity of those signatures will likely be challenged by A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, which is being run by the county's Democratic Party. That political committee had raised $25,500 as of its last disclosure but had a deadline midnight Tuesday to file another report.
Carno's non-profit I Am Created Equal does not have to disclose donors to the public as other political organizations do. It's a 501(c)(4) group classified as a social welfare organization by the IRS and does not have to file political campaign finance forms with the Federal Election Commission.
While the non-profit can accept an unlimited amount of donations from corporations and individuals, it cannot endorse candidates.
Carno also operates a 527 - the same financial structure that bred Super PACs - but she said that group has spent only about $1,600 on the recall effort for radio advertisements.
Carno said that was the only money that came in part from out-of-state donors.
"As a (c)(4) we won't talk about our donors," Carno said. Carno's group will have to file a financial disclosure to the IRS in future tax years if it exceeds certain income thresholds, but for now there is no public record of the group's income sources or expenditures.
Carno said the National Rifle Association has not donated to her non-profit.
"I would be delighted if the NRA would send me a big check," she said. "But they have not contacted me."
The NRA did donate $985 for the cost of mailed advertisements and a telemarketing push directly to the El Paso Freedom Defense Fund, according to the campaign disclosure.
The rest of the funds have come from individuals and businesses by way of goods and services, including donated guns and ammunition for contests and fund raisers.
Read Thursday's Gazette for an analysis of who is funding A Whole Lot of People for John Morse and what the campaign has spent its money on to help keep Morse in office.
Contact Megan Schrader