Thursday night, House Republican leader Patrick Neville stood before a room of Rocky Mountain Gun Owner members and pledged to support their efforts to recall his colleagues, not just with a public statement, but by providing the campaign’s “infrastructure.”
Neville: I’m already getting pushback on this, but there are grassroots folks out there initiating recalls. It’s not something we asked them to do. It’s you the grassroots voter out there doing it. In 2013, the same thing happened and people in my position actually tried to prevent the grassroots from doing it.
I’m not going to take that same position. I’m here to support you. We’ve actually started up a website called join.recallcolorado.org. We will provide infrastructure for those who are actually pushing recalls. If you want to recall your legislator you can email [us]. We’ve got to do something to stand up right now.” [CTR emphasis]
The website the House Minority leader is referring to was created and paid for by Values First Colorado, the House Republicans’ 527 political committee. That entity is run by Patrick’s brother Joe Neville, who previously worked as Political Director for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO).
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners organized Thursday’s event, enticing RMGO members to the Centennial Gun Club with the promise of a free hour of range time. RMGO staff broadcast the entire event on Facebook live.
Director Dudley Brown spoke largely about two topics: the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, or “red flag” measure, which would allow judges to allow the confiscation of guns from dangerous people, and “the R-word” as he called it: recalls.
Brown mentioned the two state legislators, Sen. Jeff Bridges (D-Greenwood Village) and Rep. Meg Froelich (D-Englewood) who are already named on the recall website created by Patrick Neville and his brother Joe (who also attended the briefing).
He went on to explain why calls to recall Governor Polis are “silly,” before insisting that there would be other legislative recalls coming.
“We spend our money on what we think is the smartest move, and that’s what we’re working on right now,” said Brown.
According to RMGO’s most recent campaign finance report, the group has money to spend, thanks to the Neville’s political committee. RMGO’s Independent Expenditure Committee has just over $17,000 in the bank. It received $20,000 from Values First Colorado on Oct. 31, 2018.
Recalls have been on Dudley Brown’s mind ever since last November’s election, as he noted in a Nov. 24 email,
“there’s no sugar coating it; it’s 2013 all over again… And if it comes to it, politicians who push gun control may have to contend with voters like you much earlier than expected…After all, they wouldn’t be the first Colorado politicians to learn that supporting gun control is a certain path to being booted from office.”RMGO email, 11/24/18
Reached for comment, Brown said,
“We anticipated the legislature would overreach. They’re already diving four-square into this red flag issue and as you can see, gun owners are pretty mad. I don’t think you have to be a raving conservative to be upset that due process rights could be violated under this proposed bill to confiscate a constitutionally guaranteed right to self defense.”
Minority Leader Neville first publicly threatened recalls on January 16 on the KNUS Radio’s Chuck & Julie Show, in response to a proposed “Safe Injection Site” bill that would have allowed cities to facilitate supervised intravenous drug use in order to combat the opioid crisis.
Two days later 9News’ Kyle Clark asked him directly about the issue,
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to stop it,” Neville told Clark. “That’s just one of the tools we have at our disposal to stop [the safe injection site bill]…and depending on the district and how many voters it has, the recall threshold to gather signatures is one of the things we’d look at.”
According to RMGO’s Facebook account, the group has been working on recalls since the weekend of March 2 at the latest, when they wrote that would be announcing some recalls “soon.” The “Recall Colorado” website was registered on March 4.
Brown specifically called out Rep. Jim Wilson (R-Salida) for “voting the wrong way,” describing him as “weak-willed” and saying his vote was “idiocy,” but said he didn’t want to name other possible recall targets until after the legislative session because he wants them all to think they might get recalled, Democrats and Republicans alike.
So which seats are we going to recall? We’re not going to say it publicly. We’re meeting with people- we met with a guy who is looking at filing next week- just before this meeting… I think we’re going to have one right here in House District 3. “[Meg] Froelich is the Representative there and she sounds like she’s just come from George Soros’ pep talk and she is ready to lynch all you deplorables. The gentleman we met with earlier is the one filing the petition there, so we’re gonna work that one.”
In a subsequent phone call Brown confirmed that he and Minority Leader Neville met with Englewood resident Matthew Anthony, who is interested in recalling Rep. Froelich, immediately prior to the March 8 briefing.
According to the Secretary of State’s office, as of late Monday afternoon, no recall petitions have been formally submitted for approval.
Asked by an audience member whether RMGO could use opposition research to pressure legislators to vote against the “red flag” bill, saying “people turn up in all sorts of databases,” Brown replied by musing about the mental health of an unnamed legislator who “may be on the recall list.”
“You’re asking is blackmail reasonable- or exposing them and their personal proclivities? The fact is, I do know of one legislator who may be on the recall list who has mental health depression and it’s been public. He’s said multiple things publicly that would qualify him for this ‘red flag’ law, and it couldn’t happen to nicer person, but no, I don’t have access to those databases.”