Group assails ex-con petition collectors

The revelation that individuals with criminal histories are collecting petition signatures to put initiatives on the state ballot is being used by one political committee as campaign fodder against opponents.

Following a Denver 9NEWS broadcast last week that reported ex-cons were being paid to circulate petitions, asking registered voters to sign their names and addresses supporting a cause, political committee Protect Colorado’s Future issued a press release Friday chiding political adversaries for using convicted criminals to put their initiatives on the ballot.

Protect Colorado’s Future, a coalition of labor groups and left-leaning advocacy organizations, criticized campaigns targeting unions in the state for hiring petition circulator companies that do not require background checks of their signature collectors.

The primary targets of the ex-con dustup were Amendment 47, a "right-to-work" ballot measure to restrict the way unions organize, and Amendment 53, a proposal that seeks to restrict union dues deductions for public employees, which has not yet been certified for the ballot.

It took less than two days for a political committee to take the story about ex-con signature collectors and attempt to turn it into political ammo. Meanwhile, Protect Colorado’s Future is careful to note that those collecting signatures for the committee’s own initiatives toughening corporate fraud punishments and requiring just cause of employee terminations have all undergone background checks.

The deadline to turn in petition signatures to put initiatives up for a vote in 2008 is Aug. 4.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at

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