DENVER — As Gov. Jared Polis continues to face push back to his controversial executive order changing the way signatures can be gathered for ballot issues, the most recent legal challenge could end up helping along an effort to remove him from office, but the challenger has to find him first.
Larimer County resident Donna Windholz has filed suit in Denver District Court asking a judge to force Secretary of State Jena Griswold, also named as a defendant in the suit, to apply executive order D 2020 065 “Ordering the Temporary Suspension of Certain Regulatory Statutes Concerning Signature Collection for Ballot Issues …” to a recall petition against Polis that Windholz is circulating.
“EO 065 claims to ‘preserve our constitutional principle of ballot access’ and ‘protects Coloradans’ constitutional right to shape their government through the initiative…process’ all ‘without risking their health or the health of others,'” the filing, obtained by Complete Colorado, reads in part. “Therefore, laying out his recognition of ballot measure circulation as a constitutional right in Colorado and his belief that Coloradans ought not to be forced by the government to choose between participation in democracy and the protection of their own health and well-being in the midst of a pandemic.”
Windholz says that despite that order, Polis failed to extend those same protections to her and her volunteers, who are gathering signatures against him for a recall attempt. Windholz states in her claim that Polis also failed to include another ballot initiative in his executive order, making his order a violationof equal protection rights.
“This political maneuver deprived the volunteers of this initiative of the COVID19 protections afforded by EO 065. The intent was to politically discriminate against this initiative since Polis does not support it thereby placing the petition circulators in danger of contracting COVID-19 and putting their lives at risk. This is a wanton disregard by Polis for the physical safety and well-being of the Colorado citizens,” the filing continues. “It is clear Polis intentionally ignored new requests for Title 1- Article 12 petitions to recall elected officials from the COVID-19 protections in EO 065. This was done as another political maneuver and political discrimination to prevent equal, fair, and safe access to the ballot for new Title 1 – Article 12 recall petitions by way of EO 065 for the citizens of Colorado to exercise their constitutional right to petition.”
Windholz has asked for an expedited determination that would apply EO 065 to the recall petition. However, a court date has not been set yet because, according to Windholz, both Polis and Griswold are avoiding her attempts to serve them with their copies of the complaint, claiming COVID-19 regulations.
“The Denver Sheriff tried to serve Polis at the Governor’s office and they were denied entry due to COVID-19,” Windholz told Complete Colorado. “It seems like I have entered a game of cat and mouse.”
Windholz is now having the Denver District Court Clerk’s office serve both summons via certified mail.
This isn’t Windholz’s first round of political fights, having been politically active since Mitt Romney ran for president in 2012. At that time, she was unaffiliated, she said, after growing up a Democrat. She is now registered as Republican..
“I was so disgusted at the Republicans for picking weak RINOs (Republican’s In Name Only) who would lose,” she said. “I voted Libertarian for President/VP and Republican for other races. I switched back to Republican in 2014 hoping the Republicans would put forth a strong Republican candidate for President. Windholz adds that she sees the 2020 election as life-or-death for Colorado, just as she did 2016 for the country, so she decided to become active during the primaries.
She is vocally opposing any Rocky Mountain Gun Owner (RMGO)-backed candidates. Her Facebook page “Unite and Fight for the Right” has nearly 1,500 “likes” and while it covers Republican primaries across the state, her big focus has been in Larimer and Weld County, where she calls her slate of candidates the “posse out to drain the Weld County swamp.”
She’s also been active at the Secretary of State’s Office, where she has filed six campaign finance complaints, three of which were dismissed and three that are still open to give the respondents time to correct their filings.
“I said a big prayer, dedicated myself to this state election cycle, and dove into state politics in January,” Windholz said. “It’s been an eye-opening if not an eye-popping experience.”