Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and State Rep. Rochelle Galindo of Greeley should be ousted from office for supporting legislation, now signed into law by Polis, that allows for more local control in regulating the oil-and-gas industry, according to the websites of multiple campaigns launched to recall the two Democrats.
But Colorado’s largest association of oil and gas companies doesn’t share that view.
“We are not currently supporting any recalls or funding any recalls, nor do I know of any oil and gas company that’s funding recalls,” Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), told the Colorado Times Recorder.
Haley then asked me if I could name an oil company that’s funding the recalls.
“I saw [Democratic presidential candidate] Elizabeth Warren do a video the other day saying [the recalls] are being funded by oil and gas,” he said. “I read a Greeley Tribune story saying it’s being funded by oil and gas. I have not seen any proof that it is.”
I mentioned the Greeley rancher and GOP donor named Steve Wells, who told the Greeley Tribune that Galindo’s vote on the oil and gas bill was the most important reason for his donation to the recall effort.
“I wouldn’t look at that as oil and gas,” Haley responded, referring to Wells as a mineral owner. “I think of oil and gas as Anadarko and Noble, mid-stream companies, production companies. I haven’t seen any of our members funding it.”
Campaign finance reports show that both before and after November’s election, oil companies, including Anadarko, donated to Values First Colorado (VFC), a GOP group established to elect Republicans to the state house.
But VFC is using leftover funds to run ads in support of the Galindo recall effort and to encourage the recall campaigns generally. The group is controlled by House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock and run by his brother, Joe Neville.
“Yes, some of the donors are,” Neville said. “We have plenty of donors who do know what we’re doing with this. We don’t plan on spending every penny into this, but we are going to spend what it takes to get things done.”
“Our goals are to make sure we have the tools available and the resources available for people in the grassroots who choose to put up a recall, if it makes sense for the organization and for being good stewards for our donors. If it helps the cause of getting back the majority and there’s reason for it, then we’ll be there to help people.”
Joe Neville wouldn’t say whether some donors, like oil companies, had told him specifically not to use their donations on recalls.
Xcel Energy has stated that it doesn’t want its donation to VFC used for recalls.
“We’ve had plenty of conversations with our donors, and we had an after action report and frankly that’s between me and my donors,” Neville said last month.
The lack of support from oil companies and COGA for recall campaigns–and the industry’s cautious acceptance of the new oil-and-gas law–hasn’t stopped recall activists, like Joe Neville’s VFC organization, from using the passage of the new oil-and-gas law to justify their efforts to recall Polis, Galindo, and potentially other Democrats.
Values First Colorado, through its Recall Colorado campaign, is paying for ads calling for the recall of the Galindo, based on her support for the new oil-and-gas law. The website lists the oil-and-gas legislation, along with comprehensive sex ed, gun-safety, and other bills, as the prime reasons for recalling Galindo.
Similarly, denunciations of the oil-and-gas law burst forth from the Recall Rochelle website, which states: “With her YES vote on SB 181, she voted to devastate the oil and gas industry, cost jobs, reduce revenue to Weld County schools, and crush our economy.”
Mary Achziger, a leader of the Recall Rochelle campaign, isn’t bothered by COGA’s and oil companies’ lack of support for the recall of Galindo–or their reluctant acceptance of SB 181, as passed with amendments favorable to the oil industry.
“I haven’t been told that oil companies are not supporting this,” Achziger told the Colorado Times Recorder.
“I’m secure in supporting this recall, mainly because of Senate Bill 181,” she said. “I’m secure in my opinion on that,” she said, adding that she believes residents of Galindo’s district oppose SB 181, and yet Galindo voted for it.
Achziger said she’s getting a positive response to her petition drive, and she expects to collect the signatures needed to make the ballot.
The Greeley Tribune reported over the weekend that in the wake of changes made to SB 181 during the legislative process, the law is more palatable to business. The Tribune reported:
When Senate Bill 19-181 was first introduced on March 1, there was a lot of fear about how the legislation could cause the oil and gas industry to abandon Colorado, taking tens of thousands of lucrative jobs with it.
But by the time it was passed on April 11, the bill had taken a new form. Earlier this week, Speaker of Colorado’s House of Representatives KC Becker, D-Boulder, Colorado Senate Assistant Minority Leader John Cooke, R-Greeley, and Colorado Oil & Gas Association President Dan Haley talked about how a couple of words and a handful of amendments turned a feared job killer into a bill both sides could accept.
The acceptability of the new law to the oil-and-gas industry also appears to be reflected in the fact that its opponents, including Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, said last week that they will drop their campaign to overturn it at the ballot box this year but might re-start next year, depending on how its rules develop.
Haley told the Tribune that his organization still has concerns about the law, even though the final version provided a “degree of certainty for our industry” that the legislation lacked at the outset.