AURORA | Critics have begun an effort to recall Adams County state Rep. JoAnn Windholz following comments she made this week about Planned Parenthood being responsible for a deadly shooting at one of their clinics in Colorado Springs.
Two people both critical of Windholz’ comments became acquainted on social media this week and decided to begin the recall effort, using Facebook themselves to make the recall happen. Leading the process is Steve Cohn of Longmont, and Naomi Bigwood of Adams County, who lives in House District 3o, represented by Windholz.
Calls and emails to Windholz were not returned.
Windholz lives in Adams County and represents north Aurora. Earlier this week she posted a statement on her political Facebook page saying Planned Parenthood in some way brought the violent shooting upon themselves by providing abortion services.
“Violence is never the answer but we must start pointing out who is the real culprit,” Windholz wrote on her Facebook page. “The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any (Planned Parenthood) facility, is (Planned Parenthood) themselves. Violence begets violence. So (Planned Parenthood), YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS.”
Cohn, who has volunteered as a Democrat for statewide campaigns in the past, said he was motivated to push for a recall after being incensed by the first-year legislator’s remarks.
“…Windholz has NO BUSINESS governing Colorado in any capacity,” Cohn and Bigwood said on a Facebook site dedicated to her recall. “Irresponsible rhetoric like hers is what caused the shooting.”
Cohn and Bigwood began “Recall State Representative JoAnn Windholz” on Tuesday and said they’re asking for volunteers and plan to submit paperwork to state officials before the end of the week. The Facebook site had more than 500 “likes” as of Thursday afternoon.
Cohn said he’s reached out to state and county Democratic Party officials but has not yet met with them about a potential recall effort.
Lynn Bartels, spokeswoman for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, said the petitioners would need 4,715 valid voter signatures to force the recall, which is 25 percent of all votes cast for the House District 30 race in the last election.
Steve House, Colorado’s GOP chairman, said the comments Windholz made do not reflect the views of the Colorado Republican Party. He said the party will not ask Windholz to resign because of the comments.
“We have and will continue to condemn acts of violence, regardless of the motivations behind them,” he said in a statement. “Violence, under any circumstance, is never acceptable.”
When asked about his own efforts being criticized as a growing “recall politics” movement in Colorado, Cohn said he was aware of recent recalls in the state and region and felt confident his efforts were justified.
“This isn’t about it being a policy matter that we don’t agree with. This is about an elected official condoning the murder of a police officer,” Cohn said. “This is about incendiary rhetoric. She did the same things as yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”
Windholz has acknowledged writing the Facebook statement, as first reported by the Colorado Independent. The post caused a wave of outrage in the district, the state and drew criticism from across the country.
The Aurora Sentinel published an editorial calling for Windholz to resign or for her own party officials to censure her for the statement.
Cohn said he would likely ask for legal help from pro-abortion-rights activists to get the process started, but he and Bigwood were willing to head up and implement the recall effort themselves if they had to, unless Windholz resigned first or was censured by party officials or fellow members of the state House.
“This woman has to go,” he said.
Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, said Windholz’ comments were “beyond the pale.”
“Representative Windholz doesn’t represent the will of the voters in Colorado or her own district, as she has now made embarrassingly obvious to the people of Adams County. A majority of Coloradans support a woman’s right to make her own private health care decisions without government interference. That has been affirmed by landslide margins on anti-abortion ballot measures,” she said in a statement. “When you are a member of the Colorado General Assembly, your private speech is never private, and hateful rhetoric from an elected official reflects poorly on all of us.”
Aurora Democratic State Senator Morgan Carroll, who is challenging Republican Rep. Mike Coffman next year for the Sixth Congressional District seat, said in a statement that Windholz needs to retract her statement and apologize to the victims of the Colorado Springs shooting or step down.
“It’s deeply disturbing and dangerous for Rep. JoAnn Windholz to blame Planned Parenthood and the victims of this attack for this atrocity,” she said.
Carroll also called on Coffman to ask Windholz to retract the statement and offer an apology.