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Fix Our Damn Roads to sue the Greeley Stampede

Author: Joey Bunch - July 17, 2018 - Updated: July 18, 2018

Greeley StampedeThe Greeley Stampede draws huge crowds to the city each July. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Tourism Office)

The Greeley Stampede rodeo and fair has lassoed some legal trouble over free speech.

The leader of ballot initiative Fix Our Damn Roads, Jon Caldara, president of the conservative Independence Institute in Denver, said the Stampede prevented signature gatherers from asking people going in and leaving the event if they wanted to sign the petition.

Caldara says his group plans to sue the Stampede over the matter. Civil rights lawyer David Lane is planning to represent the signature-gatherers, Caldara said.

The proposal for the November ballot could ask voters to force the legislature to better fund transportation with existing tax dollars. A competing proposal supported by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and others would ask voters to pass a statewide sales tax for transportation.

Caldara said the Greeley Stampede is a nonprofit that leases the city-owned Island Grove Regional Park for the Fourth of July rodeo and fair each year.

“The Greeley Stampede and other public events (that) use public property don’t have the right to take away other people’s free-speech rights to sign petitions on a public sidewalk,” Caldara said.

Greeley Stampede general manager Justin Watada said Tuesday he was not aware of the lawsuit and couldn’t comment.

Lane could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.