Colorado’s newly formed Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission is off to a tumultuous start.
Members of the group tasked with redrawing Colorado’s congressional boundaries unanimously ousted their chairman, Republican Danny Moore, on Monday for public comments he made related to the 2020 elections and the coronavirus. He will remain on the commission but will no longer hold a leadership position.
In January, Moore posted on Facebook that “the election of 2020 will go down as the most questioned election in our country’s history.” He also made numerous racist references to COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus” — mirroring rhetoric spread by former President Donald Trump that helped fuel the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes throughout the country.
Moore’s comments were reported by 9News shortly after he was selected as chair of the independent commission last month.
“We were established by a vote in this state using our election systems that people trusted to vote on an amendment to put us in existence,” said Jolie Brawner, an unaffiliated commissioner from Denver who voted to remove Moore as chair. “We exist because of our voting systems.”
In 2018, Coloradans voted to implement two amendments — Y and Z — that created two independent redistricting commissions to redraw the state’s congressional and legislative maps with an eye towards fairness and minimizing the potential for gerrymandering.
Members of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission
Paula Espinoza (D), of Roxborough Park
Elizabeth Wilkes (D), of Colorado Springs
Simon Tafoya (D), of Denver
Martha Coleman (D), of Fort Collins
Danny D. Moore (R), of Centennial
William J. Leone (R), of Westminster
Jason Kelly (R), of Alamosa
JulieMarie Shepherd (R), of Aurora
Jolie C. Brawner (U), of Denver
Lori Smith Schell (U), of Durango
Carly Dawn Hare (U), of Longmont
Moussa Mariam Diawara (U), of Colorado Springs
During the commission’s meeting on Monday, Moore said that he felt he was being unfairly attacked for being a Black conservative. After numerous commissioners asked that he resign, Moore stated that his comments would not impact his work on the commission and that he had “no intention of stepping down as chair.”
“I want this to be behind us, as soon as possible,” Moore said before the formal vote. “I started out by saying that I am focused on what is right for Colorado. And if that means that I can serve but not be chair, I will continue to be focused on what is right for Colorado.”
After thanking Moore for his military service, Jason Kelly, a Republican commissioner from Alamosa, said that the commission’s swift action to remove Moore from a position of power for his opinions was both “troubling” and “disheartening.”
“I’m concerned with commissioner Moore’s remarks. I don’t agree with them. But he is certainly entitled to those opinions that he has,” Kelly said.
“I don’t know anybody any more than commissioner Moore. I’ve never met any one of you in person. I don’t know your background, I don’t know your social media history,” Kelly added. “And where does that line draw? Do we go back six months? A year? Five years? High school yearbook photos and comments before we try to determine that someone is unfit to be a chair?”
But ultimately, Kelly voted to remove Moore. “It’s important that we have that trust with the citizens of Colorado,” he said.
After the vote, Moore told his fellow commissioners — seemingly reading from a prepared statement — that he is not bitter or resentful.
“My comments were intended to create a broader discussion around political correctness and the problems that are impacting our society,” he said. “I meant no harm, or malice against any group or any person.”
Carly Hare, an unaffiliated member of the group who is the current vice chair, will take over his leadership role. The next full commission meeting will take place April 7 at 2 p.m.