DENVER (CN) – The Colorado State Supreme Court pulled a six-term incumbent from the congressional race Monday for using out of state petitioners to qualify for the ballot.
With 1,269 signatures, it looked like Republican Doug Lamborn was well on his way to campaign for his seventh run in the 2018 congressional election, but voters in the fifth district discovered he had relied on signatures gathered by out of state petitioners.
“Shockingly the overwhelming majority of these signatures were gathered by the illegal use of paid out-of-state circulators who fail to meet the Colorado legal requirements,” alleged five voters in a petition filed with Secretary of State Wayne Williams on March 29.
To qualify for the ballot in Colorado, a candidate must be chosen by their party’s caucus or by obtaining signatures from supporters. State representatives need 1,000 signatures while gubernatorial candidates need 1,500 signatures from each district.
The voters, led by Michael Kuhn, questioned the residency of seven petition circulators employed through the National Association of Professional Petitioners and Coordinators (NAPPC).
“Everything about these seven individuals gathering hundreds of signatures days after they all register to vote with the same residence points to a flagrant disregard for Colorado’s longstanding resident and voter registration requirement,” the petition stated.
After 58 signatures were disqualified, the court considered the 269 signatures collected by NAPPC member Ryan Tipple. Tipple lives and is registered to vote in California, but promised to return to Colorado soon.
Tipple’s word was good enough for the district court, but found to violate state election law by the Supreme Court.
“Relying solely on the Colorado Election Code, the supreme court concludes [Williams] may not,” certify Lamborn’s petitions, the court wrote in its 26-page ruling.
While the Supreme Court did not find Williams’ verification at fault, “the petitioners nonetheless had the statutory right to challenge the validity of the petition … (and) presented additional evidence.”
Gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton managed to sidestep similar allegations after his own petitions circulated by NAPPC underwent scrutiny from another gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson, nephew of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Pleading ignorance that his campaign team had hired out-of-state Kennedy Enterprises, Stapleton withdrew his petition and said he would rely on his party’s caucus to qualify for the ballot.
The state treasurer’s bet paid off on April 14 when Stapleton was chosen alongside former Parker mayor Gary Lopez to make it to the ballot.