- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DENVER — New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is the single biggest contributor to a group that is helping two anti-gun state Democrats fend off a recall effort and save their state legislative seats, according to just-released campaign finance reports.

The billionaire Mr. Bloomberg, a leading voice for more restrictive gun laws, made the $350,000 donation on Aug. 8 to Taxpayers for Responsible Government, an “issue committee” formed less than a month ago by Colorado Democratic fundraiser Julie Wells. Another billionaire, Eli Broad of Los Angeles, contributed $250,000 to the committee.

The committee then donated $420,000 to the campaigns for Democratic state Sens. Angela Giron and John Morse, who have been targeted by a grass-roots gun rights group for recall after their votes in favor of sweeping gun control legislation in March.

Recall supporters said they weren’t surprised by the large influx of out-of-state cash, saying it is further evidence that the Democrat-controlled legislature’s gun agenda was pushed by Mr. Bloomberg, founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

“Coloradans have demonstrated in election after election that they cannot be bought by elitist out-of-state billionaires like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg,” said Kelly Maher, Compass Colorado’s executive director. “As a state that values our individualism, we don’t appreciate nanny-state politicians who tried to ban Big Gulps and attempted to regulate soda and trans fats trying to force their political agendas on us.”

The recall election, the first in state history, is scheduled for Sept. 10 in Ms. Giron’s Pueblo district and Mr. Morse’s Colorado Springs district.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Second Amendment & Gun Control

Thanks in large part to Mr. Bloomberg, both Democrats have vastly outraised the opposition. A Whole Lot of People for John Morse reported raising $635,601 since June 30, while Recall John Morse collected $11,700.

The Basic Freedom Defense Fund, which is running the Morse recall, is registered as a 501(c)4 nonprofit and is not required to file a report listing its donations. Democrats defended the involvement of Mr. Bloomberg and other large out-of-state donors. The recall is being viewed nationally as a referendum on gun control laws.

“We are in the national spotlight,” Morse campaign manager Christy Le Lait said in a press release. “It should come as no surprise that Mayor Bloomberg, one of the country’s most active gun-safety advocates, as well as America Votes, Conservation Colorado, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, AFL-CIO and many others would donate to this campaign.”

Ms. Giron’s campaign, Pueblo United for Angela, reported raising $687,445 in monetary and non-monetary contributions, while the pro-recall group Pueblo Freedom and Rights collected less than $25,000.

That means the Giron campaign outraised Pueblo Freedom and Rights, run by three Pueblo plumbers in their 20s, by a margin of more than 27-to-1.

“Isn’t it also ironic that Giron has been accusing us of being ‘wealthy outside interests’?” Pueblo Freedom and Rights said in a Facebook post.

Giron campaign Chairwoman Jennie Peek-Dunstone said the recall fight has national implications.

“We want to thank every single one of those supporters, from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the people who gave $5 to $10,” Ms. Peek-Dunstone said in a statement. “They all play a role in fighting back against the ‘wave of fear’ that the recall proponents want to send across the country.”

The recall forces received a boost from the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, which contributed $108,667 in the form of mailers, radio ads and cable television spots.

“Today’s campaign finance reports reveal what we have known all along: that the ‘outside interests’ in this campaign were on the side of Sens. Morse and Giron,” said Jennifer Kerns of the Basic Freedom Defense Fund. “This recall movement has been a local, organic, Colorado movement from Day One, which has been fought every step of the way by big out-of-state interests.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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