Supporters of the effort to recall Denver Public Schools board president Nate Easley have until tomorrow at 5 p.m. to turn in 5,363 valid signatures from voters in Easley's district of northeast Denver in order to put the recall question on an upcoming ballot. They've been at it for the past sixty days, knocking on doors and standing at storefronts to rustle up signatures. Meanwhile, Easley has been fighting back -- with the help of $35,540 in contributions.
Easley collected his first donations on February 1, six days after the petition to begin the recall process was approved by the Denver Elections Division, according to campaign finance reports. Three people -- two of whom sit on the board of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, of which Easley is the deputy director -- donated a total of $6,250. Calls to Terry Leprino ($5,000) of Leprino Foods and businesswoman Barbara Grogan ($1,000) were not returned.
Subsequently, other DSF board members made contributions. Realtor Jack Kim ($300) and doctor David Scanavino ($10,000) serve on the DSF board. Additionally, investors Scott Reiman ($2,000) and Steve Kris ($1,000) serve on the DSF advisory council.
Kris was the only one to return a phone call from Westword. He says he's supported Easley from the beginning. "He's going to do what he thinks is right for the kids and sometimes, that's rocking the boat," Kris says of Easley.
As for the recall effort, Kris says he thinks the process is unfair. "They make it too easy to recall an elected official," he says. Plus, he adds, Easley hasn't done anything wrong.
"Nothing he's done is inconsistent with what he's said or he believes," Kris says. "The fact that there's a group that maybe he did not come down the way they'd hoped and they're using this process to uproot him, is wrong."
We put in a call to Easley and we'll update this blog post when we hear back. It appears from his campaign finance reports that much of the money he's spent -- $10,831 total as of mid-March -- has been paid to Victoria Scott-Haynes, former assistant to ex-Colorado House speaker Terrance Carroll, for "canvassing expenses."
Easley has printed and distributed several fliers titled "Decline to Sign" that list his accomplishments and supporters, including Governor John Hickenlooper, former Denver mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Peña and former DPS superintendent Evie Dennis, as well as several state senators, representatives and school board members.
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Recall supporters have printed fliers, too, including one that blasts Easley for taking money from DSF board members. The most recent campaign finance report for a group working to recall Easley, Take Back Our Schools, shows zero dollars raised.
Will recall supporters collect enough signatures to oust Easley? Or will his long list of supporters -- which also includes former DU chancellor Daniel Ritchie ($2,000), Denver Museum of Nature and Science president George Sparks ($250) and Laura Barton, widow of the former Liberty Media president ($100) -- protect him?
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