Photo Credit: El Paso County
Update: On May 21, Jon Caldara of Denver’s Independence Institute sat down with Commissioner Longinos Gonzales, to talk about his statement to the Governor that he will not comply with his executive orders. Take a listen to this 20-minute interview.
At today’s meeting of the El Paso County Commissioners, Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez used his comment time to send a strongly worded message to the Governor. Watch the full video here.
Following is the text of Commissioner Gonzalez’s comments.
“I apologize for the length of my comments this morning.
I appreciate all the hard work being done locally for our residents, and those affected by COVID. Our public health numbers demonstrate effective local control and precautions. Our recovery and that of the State demonstrates that the governor should be decreasing his disaster emergency authorities and powers not increasing them.
Instead, this weekend and again last night, the governor demonstrated an unacceptable level of hubris, for which I cannot stand in silence. It is the governor’s position that one person, one person alone, can change and suspend election law as demonstrated in his 3 executive orders issued this past Saturday evening, suspending certain election statutes and that he can go around the legislature regarding budget decisions. Changes that go against the guidance stated in the Colorado Constitution. Orders issued while he still has a legislature that can come in and craft emergency guidance during the COVID situation that he could signed, as would be the norm, and the expectation of Coloradans.
Actions taken to change election law inevitably affect the election itself. The governor’s one-person manipulation of our election system defeats the principles of our democratic republic. His blatant disregard for this most basic of principles is astonishing and disappointing. These decisions will affect not just the upcoming primary election, but he must know he is affecting the November election as well, as his actions and changes make it easier than before COVID-19 that ballot initiatives can make the end of year ballot. And as is well known, what or who is on the ballot greatly influences who does or doesn’t come out to vote. He, one person, is influencing that process and that election. That again, is unacceptable as he has removed the collaboration of the people’s voice, the legislature, in his lone man decision-making.
Another example of his poor decision making in suspending election law is demonstrated in the Secretary of State’s recent pronouncement to local Clerk and Recorders that to protect against COVID, those that retrieve ballots from drop boxes must go to and back from the drop box in separate vehicles. The intent of state law is to ensure at least two individuals from different parties can confirm no fraud or abuse can be done in retrieving our ballots. The secretary’s new guidance, which means ballots will be with only one person while being delivered to the Election Office is both foolish and opens all counties to the valid questioning of election security. Again, this action is both supported and endorsed by one person, the governor, who is allowing the suspension of election law under his emergency authorities.
I have been critical of many of the governor’s and legislature’s actions over the past year and a half, but not one of those actions concern me, scare me, more than the thought that one person can manipulate election law in a free society because of his emergency declaration.
Additionally, last night the governor issued another executive order dispersing the $1.67 Billion in Colorado CARES Act dollars. Senior members of the legislature have already come out and stated this is a circumvention of their body and a violation of the separation of powers. A month ago during a teleconference with the governor, in response to information from CCI, I commented on the situation of his spending the CARES Act funds only on state budget and not on small communities, and I have spoken on this issue regularly over the past several weeks. The governor responded to me directly and stated that power resided with the legislature. He stated the same during his next two press conferences. I can only conclude that the governor potentially lied to me directly and to the media, or he was mistaken and it took him and his staff a month to determine he did have authority to spend the dollars himself. In which case my assertions over the past month that he has been sitting on those funds instead of getting them out to the community and businesses in a timely manner have been proven correct. And for that, he is to blame for any businesses who may have failed during the time he could have provided counties and communities funding. In both situations I’ve mentioned, the governor has demonstrated an unacceptable taking of authority from the people’s representatives, the legislature. I pray they take a stand themselves.
It is therefore my position that the governor must rescind his election law executive orders immediately. Push them through the legislature if you wish, that is your right, but no one person can be allowed to demonstrate such overreach without protest. And so protest I am forced to do.
Therefore, while these election executive orders remain in place, I will not comply with the governor’s COVID-related mandates and executive orders. I will not comply with the restrictions he’s initiated upon Colorado.
Out of respect to fellow residents, I will voluntarily support common sense health practices, but I will do so without regard to the governor’s orders.
I do this because the governor’s actions compel me to do so. I cannot sit quietly as one person is allowed to dictate and manipulate the election process. I cannot sit quietly as one person continues to issue mandates that have destroyed the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans and the near ruination of our state while he sat silently on $1.67 Billion in CARES Act funds that he could otherwise be distributing portions of to communities and businesses in need weeks ago.
So, until the governor returns the separation of powers he has clearly ignored and taken from the legislature, I will not comply with your COVID emergency executive orders.
I understand my actions will not be supported by all or even many, but it is what I believe and it is what the governor forces me to do.
God bless our State and God bless America, for indeed I am greatly worried for both.”
Bravo, Mr. Commissioner. Bravo.
We applaud Commissioner Gonzalez for standing up for the separation of powers, and for the rights of those he serves!