Walker Stapleton withdraws ballot petition, blames Colorado Springs company

DENVER - Walker Stapleton, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, announced Tuesday that he was withdrawing his ballot petition because of a possibility of improper signature gathering, and he will instead try to get onto the Republican primary ballot at Saturday's state assembly.

The announcement came on the same day of a hearing in a lawsuit involving Rep. Doug Lamborn's campaign alleging some of the circulators collecting signatures for his campaign weren't Colorado residents. One of those circulators was ruled invalid Tuesday.

Stapleton and Lamborn both used Kennedy Enterprises, which is based out of Colorado Springs, to gather signatures.

Stapleton sent a letter to Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams Tuesday saying that Kennedy Enterprises used a trainee circulator who shouldn't have been circulating petitions, according to our partners at Denver7.

"Kennedy Enterprises repeatedly lied to my campaign when we asked them about news reports alleging this conduct weeks ago,” Stapleton wrote in the letter. “Until [Monday] night, Dan Kennedy and those working for him insisted that no such individual had ever worked for Kennedy Enterprises. Worse than lying to my campaign, they lied to your office when your office specifically asked about these news reports.”

The signatures in question were verified by the Secretary of State's office, but Stapleton said Kennedy had been "involved in misconduct" and needed to be held accountable.

The trainee, Daniel Velasquez, is accused of collecting signatures and then submitting them as though they were collected by someone else. 

Dan Kennedy responded to the news Tuesday evening and said he did not lie to any of his clients or to the Secretary of State's Office.

My firm, Kennedy Enterprises LLC has operated in Colorado for 24 years, serving dozens of clients with the utmost integrity, while doing our very best to assure each and every one of our independent contractors collect signatures according to all the laws. Most of the folks on both side of the political isle can attest to this fact!

Concerning this particular occasion:
Approximately a month ago the Stapleton campaign inquired of me regarding a particular situation. Directly after that conversation I relayed this inquiry to the appropriate subcontractor of Kennedy Enterprises who researched this and reported information to me which I believed to be true and I passed on that information to the Stapleton campaign and the Colorado Secretary of State. 
Last night (April 9, 2018) when presented with some new information from the Stapleton campaign I inquired again to the subcontractor who, again looked into this matter and reported to me that I had previously been misled. I immediately reported this new information to the Stapleton campaign.

Therefore, I have not and did not lie to any of my clients or the Colorado Secretary of State at any time. 
And to the best of my knowledge the signatures collected on the Stapleton campaign we're all collected lawfully.

I hold the Stapleton campaign, as well as all of my clients with the utmost regard and regret this apparent misunderstanding.
-Dan Kennedy

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman decried Stapleton's move Tuesday.

“Walker chose to hire a group of shady petitions gatherers with a notorious and sordid past,” Coffman said. “Now, in the 11th hour, he once again shows no respect for the rules, the party or Republican delegates. Now, it will be up to the delegates to decide who they trust to represent their interests in the primary elections.” 

Stapleton would need to get 30 percent of delegates in his favor at Saturday's assembly to be placed on the ballot.

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