DENVER (AP) — The chair of the newly formed Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission in Colorado has been removed from his role following scrutiny over social media posts where he touted unfounded claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election and referred to the coronavirus as the “China virus.”
Commissioners voted unanimously on Monday to remove Republican Danny Moore after he refused to resign voluntarily, citing concerns about his ability to lead the panel impartially and maintain public confidence in the commission, The Colorado Sun reported.
Republican Commissioner JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin said Moore's posts created a “distraction.”
She added: “I was frankly disappointed this was the first big story about our work.”
Moore, who abstained from the vote, will remain a member of the 12-person commission. Some argued he should be removed entirely. Vice Chair Carly Hare will now head the commission.
KUSA-TV first reported on public social media posts made by Moore. Commissioners also cited reporting by The Gazette, which found additional posts where Moore refers to President Joe Biden’s victory as “the Democratic steal” and refers to CNN as “Chineses (sic) News Network.”
Moore said he did not mean to cause harm and questioned the integrity of KUSA-TV reporters.
“I want to ensure you I am focused on what is right for Colorado,” said Moore. “What voters wanted for this commission was diversity. I am a Black man and I am a conservative.”
Commissioner Lori Smith Schell said she would not have supported Moore as chair had she known about the social media posts, but supported allowing him to remain as a commissioner.
“Your race is not an issue in this discussion … your belief that the last presidential election was stolen, and the last Colorado election was tainted … are what is at issue,” Schell said.
The scrutiny came as the newly appointed commission faces monthslong delays in receiving U.S. Census data that are threatening to derail the high-stakes redistricting process ahead of the 2022 election. It also injects partisan controversy into the commission, which was billed as a way to tame the politics around the redistricting process.