DENVER – Danny Moore, the chair of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, was removed as the chairman of the commission on Monday after posting election conspiracy theories and derogatory statements regarding the coronavirus on social media.
Eleven of the 12 commissioners voted to remove Moore as chair, while Moore abstained from the vote after more than an hour of discussion and after Moore refused to resign as chairman upon several requests.
Moore will remain on the commission, as the other commissioners of the independent panel said they did not all wish to seek his full removal from the post because they were not sure it would be constitutional or even palatable for the full commission.
Carly Hare, one of the four unaffiliated commissioners who had been vice chair, will now chair the panel for the time being and the commissioners will vote on a new vice chair at a future meeting when further guidance on that process is put forth.
The commission had elected Centennial’s Moore, one of four Republicans on the panel, to chair the commission last month, with eight members voting in his favor. But last week, some of his posts made on Facebook were reported by other Colorado media outlets that scrutinized his comments.
He claimed in posts, as first reported by 9News, that President Joe Biden was not rightfully elected and called last year’s General Election victor by Biden a product of “the Democrat steal.”
He also said the day after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, without evidence, that “mass mail-in ballots can be controlled by the people you give them too [sic],” as was reported by the Gazette.
And he, according to the Gazette, called the novel coronavirus the “Chinese Virus” repeatedly and referred to the news network CNN as “the Chineses News Network.”
Commissioner Paula Espinoza, a Roxborough Park Democrat, said she was “deeply troubled” by the posts that came to light and said that the posts could call into question the impartiality of his work on the commission and of the commission’s work as a whole if he remained chairman.
Lori Schell, an unaffiliated commissioner from Durango, said she would not have supported his candidacy for chair had she known Moore held those beliefs and said she felt having him out of the chairman role would ensure Coloradans could trust the independent commission.
Moussa Diawara, another unaffiliated commissioner from Colorado Springs, said public trust of the panel was most important as they go through this process.
“He appears to be so strongly opinionated that I doubt he can be completely impartial as chair of the committee,” Diawara said.
JuliaMarie Shepherd Macklin, an Aurora Republican, also said that she had concerns that she had concerns about trust if Moore remained in the chair position and called the social media posts a distraction from the commission’s work.
Bill Leone, a Westminster Republican, questioned whether the commission wanted a Republican or a Democratic commissioner as the chair of the committee at all, saying that having anything but a nonpartisan chair could send “the wrong message to the public.”
After the vote in which all 11 of the commissioners aside from Moore voted to remove him as chair, Moore said his comments on social media were about creating a “broader discussion” about political correctness and said he meant no harm or malice toward any groups he spoke about.
“My hope and prayer today is that no other commissioner experiences what I have experienced,” he added.
The removal of Moore as chair is just one of many hurdles facing the independent commission, which is tasked with redrawing Colorado’s legislative district map based on Census data that is expected to come much later than usual and throw several wrinkles into the timeline set by the state.