John Suthers: Over 11,000 sign 9.12 Project-backed petition supporting health-care challenge

On April 1, we told you about a ProgressNow Colorado petition signed by more than 8,000 people who oppose Colorado Attorney General John Suthers' decision to join a lawsuit challenging the legality of the new health-care law.

Well, guess what? Today, Lu Busse, chair of the 9.12 Project Colorado Coalition, will be part of a delegation presenting Suthers with a petition supporting his action.

How many signatures have Busse and company collected? She tallied them up last night, and between online and physical signees, there are over 11,000.

According to Busse, the ProgressNow Colorado petition was only one incentive for this particular response.

"I wrote a letter from the 9.12 Project right after he filed the lawsuit," she recalls. "We have 24 groups scattered across the state with over 10,000 members, and we had a group leadership conference call where the leaders voted to support him and said that we would start a letter-writing campaign. So in my letter, I said that he should consider it 10,000 letters of support, since we have over 10,000 members."

After this missive was published on the People's Press Collective website, however, regular PPC contributor Ari Armstrong questioned Busse's assertion in a subsequent post, arguing that "I couldn't speak for 10,000 people when we hadn't had a vote -- even though we'd had a leadership vote," she explains.

For Busse, Armstrong's criticism demanded a tangible response. "I'm the type where I don't get mad, I get even," she says, laughing. So she contacted Jeff Crank, from the Colorado chapter of Americans For Prosperity, a national organization, and asked him to put a petition supporting Suthers on his website. "I wanted to show him that I know of at least 10,000 people who feel like I do about it," she says.

According to Busse, the petition went live on March 31, with the number of signatures steadily building over the next few weeks. In addition, assorted grassroots organizations participated in the collection of physical signatures. For example, she says a Grand Junction group gathered over 1,000 signatures over a day-and-a-half span at a couple of events, and hundreds more were scrawled at the April 15 Tea Party commemoration of tax day in Denver, which Busse attended in a behind-the-scenes capacity.

As noted earlier, the combined total has now surpassed 11,000, and more signatures "keep trickling in," Busse says. And while she emphasizes that the petition shouldn't be interpreted as a blanket endorsement of everything Suthers has done during his time in office, she's pleased so many people are boosting him in this case given her views about the lawsuit and the health-care legislation.

"We believe the bill has gone too far," she says. "We are persuaded that the commerce clause in the Constitution does not give the federal government power to tell people what they have to purchase. And we're also concerned that some states may be getting better deals than other states." She cites Louisiana, Hawaii and Nevada as possible examples.

Likewise, she continues, "we feel states have the right to ask the question and have a federal court review, a thorough and impartial review. And since this is mainly lawyers writing briefs and scholars weighing in and judges making decisions, it's not the same kind of expensive lawsuit you may have in other cases. So we think the complaint that he's wasting money is kind of overblown." She adds, "This is what taxpayers are willing to spend money on. We don't say 'no taxes.' We just want them spent wisely and for good purposes."

Busse and Crank will definitely be on hand to present the signatures to the AG's office at 10 a.m. today, with other grassroots reps a possibility -- although Busse notes that because most of them have jobs or family commitments, she's unsure how many will be able to show up.

But there's no doubt she stands for many others who like what Suthers has done just as much as those ProgressNow Colorado signatories don't like it.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts