COLORADO SPRINGS — Unoffical complaints against the manner in which El Paso County Sheriff republican nominee Joe Roybal collected signatures to make it onto the ballot have been formalized.
A February Facebook post that appeared on Dragonman’s Gun Store’s page (now removed), showed a video of gun range owner Mel Bernstein with current El Paso County Undersheriff Joe Roybal.
In the video Bernstein, commonly known as “Dragon Man,” offers a $5 discount to his gun range to anyone who would sign Roybal’s petition. Roybal was tasked with collecting 1,000 signatures in order to guarantee a spot on the republican ballot.
According to state law, candidates must report any in-kind contributions made in support of their campaign.
A state statute also says, in part, that each petition must be sumbitted with “a statement that the affiant has not paid or will not in the future pay and that the affiant believes that no other person has paid or will pay, directly or indirectly, any money or other thing of value to any signer for the purpose of inducing or causing the signer to sign the petition.”
The 4th District Attorney’s Office has jurisdiction in the case but, according to a press release, also has the authority to request a special prosecutor in circumstances such as this.
According to his office, District Attorney Michael Allen has requested that District Attorney Jeff Chostner of the 10th Judicial District take on this case as a special prosecutor, Mr. Chostner has agreed to that request. All materials received regarding this matter have been turned over to Mr. Chostner’s Office.”
In a response to the release of the Facebook video on Thursday, Roybal said, in part, by statement:
“At the time of the video, I was not aware the discount would be offered for each signature obtained. I was surprised and did not know he was going to make the statement; it was not planned nor coordinated with me. After this issue was brought to my attention, my campaign and I researched the rules and understand why the question was raised. If I’d had a full understanding of the rules at the time, I would have intervened. Now, I have a better understanding of the process and will ensure full compliance in the future.“
You can read Roybal’s full statement here.
A number of high-profile endorsers are listed on Roybal’s campaign website, including Mayor John Suthers, 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen, Police Chief Vince Niski (retired), and many others.