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A map of Colorado's congressional districts.

Danny Moore was removed Monday from his role as the chair of Colorado’s newly-formed Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission following scrutiny of social media posts where he touted unfounded claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election and referred to coronavirus as the “China virus.” 

Fellow commissioners voted unanimously to remove Moore, a Republican appointed from the 6th Congressional District, after he refused to resign voluntarily. They cited concerns about his ability to lead the panel impartially and maintain public confidence in the commission. 

Commissioner Danny Moore.

Moore’s posts “created a distraction from our work from the get-go,” Commissioner JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin said.

“I was frankly disappointed this was the first big story about our work,” said Shepherd Macklin, a Republican from the 6th Congressional District. 

Moore, who abstained from the vote, will remain a member of the 12-person commission. Carly Hare, an unaffiliated voter from the 4th Congressional district who was serving as vice chair, will take over as chair. 

The drama is the latest challenge for the newly-appointed commission, which convened for the first time on March 15 and faces months-long 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 formed when voters passed Amendments Y and Z and was billed as a way to tame the politics around the redistricting process.

Eleven of the panel’s 12 commissioners, evenly selected among Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated voters, said Moore’s statements threaten to erode public confidence in their work.

“It’s a function of whether or not we want either Republican or a Democratic … firebrand being the chair of this commission,” Commissioner Bill Leone, a Republican from the 7th Congressional District, said during the debate about whether to oust Moore from his chair position. “I think if we go either way, it sends the wrong message to the public.”

9News first reported on Moore’s public social media posts. Commissioners also cited reporting by The Gazette, which found additional posts where Moore refers to President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election as “the Democratic steal” and refers to CNN as “Chineses [sic] News Network.”

Moore, in defending his comments before the commission, said he did not mean to cause harm with his social media posts, questioned the integrity of 9News reporters and read Twitter responses to the 9News story which called the story racist.

“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.”

“You do not attack a person, but the issues,” Moore added.

Some commissioners said the panel should consider removing Moore entirely.

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,” said Schell, an unaffiliated voter from the 3rd Congressional District.

Some commissioners highlighted recent violence against people of Asian descent nationwide in emphasizing why Moore needed to be removed as chair.

“We know these words fuel hate crimes and physical harm in this country,” said Commissioner Martha Coleman, a Democrat from the 2nd Congressional District.

Moore refused requests from commissioners to step down voluntarily, instead pushing for a vote.

“I am not bitter nor do I have any resentment. This is how the commission builds trust,” Moore said after the vote to remove him. “Thank you for allowing me to serve.”

Thy Vo previously was a politics reporter for The Colorado Sun.