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Aug 27, 2013 8:47 PM by Andy Koen

Accusations fly as recall election looms

COLORADO SPRINGS - With just two weeks left until the recall special election of Colorado Springs State Senator John Morse, the mudslinging is picking up from both sides.

Republican challenger Bernie Herpin called out Morse for not supporting a law to create higher mandatory prison sentences for child sex offenders. Meanwhile, a Morse campaign donor filed a complaint alleging Herpin violated campaign finance rules.

Herpin leveled his criticism of Morse during a news conference held at the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association (CSPPA) over what have been called Jessica's Laws which require mandatory minimum prison sentences of 25 years for child sex offenders.

"My question to John Morse is what kind of signal does this send to potential criminals, and what kind of signal does it send that politicians in Denver blocked Jessica's Laws and other efforts to get tough on violent child predators," Herpin said.

The CSPPA has endorsed the Herpin campaign and also called for the passage of a Jessica's Law in Colorado. Republican State Representative Libby Szabo of Arvada, who introduced the bill earlier this year, joined Herpin at the news conference.

Herpin also said Morse killed a similar bill back in 2008 and that he would carry the bill in the State Senate if elected. Currently 45 other states have passed some version of a Jessica Law on the books.

The criticism contrasts Morse's own campaign ad in which he stumps on his record of protecting kids from child predators.

"Morse passed tough laws to crack down on sexual predators and keep our kids safe," a campaign ad touts in reference to his sponsorship of Katie's Law in 2009. That law requires mandatory DNA samples be taken from all convicted felons.

The Morse camp countered the criticism by saying current felony sentencing guidelines are more stringent.

"The Senator believes sexual predators should face the the stiffest penalties," said campaign manager Christy Le Lait. "Current law allows for life sentences for all sexual predators, Jessica's law would have been a step backward."

On Monday, Morse donor Ann Schmitt filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's office alleging the Herpin camp violated campaign finance rules by printing door hangars that calls for voters to "Vote yes to recall John Morse."

Schmitt's attorneys Martha Tierney and Mark Grueskin contend that only "issues" committees can support or oppose candidates. Herpin's campaign is organized as a candidate committee.

When asked about the accusation, Herpin said, "this frivolous complaint by John Morse and his supporters is just another attempt to distract the voters from his failed record and his own past ethics problems."

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