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McLachlan recall effort slow to get off ground

McLachlan

By Joe Hanel Herald staff writer

DENVER – A recall campaign against Rep. Mike McLachlan, D-Durango, still has not formally begun, two weeks after his opponents announced that the petition had been filed.

Gun-rights proponents upset with McLachlan’s votes for gun bills sent out a news release March 10 saying they had officially filed a recall petition with the secretary of state March 5. But, as of Wednesday afternoon, the petition hadn’t been formally accepted.

Dave Salhee, an organizer of the recall effort, said his allies filed what they think will be the final version of the petition Wednesday.

“We’re expecting the secretary of state to approve that any day,” Salhee said.

The exact date of the filing matters because it triggers a 60-day clock, during which McLachlan’s opponents will need to collect at least 10,586 signatures from registered voters in House District 59.

Assuming the petition is accepted today, that puts the deadline as May 20. Signatures collected before the petition is approved will not count.

On Monday, recall advocates registered two political committees to fund the recall effort against McLachlan and Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs – the San Juan Freedom Defense Committee and the El Paso Freedom Defense Committee.

The two registered agents for the San Juan committee are Salhee and Tyler Thatcher.

It’s a local effort, Salhee said.

“This is a bunch of local guys that are tired of politicians lying to them in order to get their vote,” he said.

McLachlan’s opponents also have created a nonprofit group called the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, headquartered in Durango. As a 501(c)4 nonprofit, the group does not have to reveal its donors. Its main activities must be social welfare or public education. It can spend money on lobbying or campaigns, but politics can’t be its main purpose. Despite the tax law, 501(c)4s have become a popular vehicle to funnel untraceable money into politics.

Recall proponents are being aided by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the gun-rights group that mobilized most of the opposition to the gun bills.

“We’re looking at a whole slew of recalls,” said Dudley Brown, RMGO’s director, who vowed to “destroy” Democrats in the 2014 election.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is known mostly for primary elections against Republicans perceived by Brown as too moderate. Brown was a delegate to the Republican National Convention and helped engineer protest votes against Mitt Romney in Colorado’s delegation to the convention last year.

McLachlan was hospitalized with an illness Wednesday and unavailable for comment. He was expected to return to the Legislature this week, said Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, chairwoman of the House Democratic caucus.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

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