Finds that Secretary of State “exceeded his authority” in rules to limit transparency
The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the Denver District Court’s finding that Secretary of State Scott Gessler overstepped his authority in changing campaign finance limits for political issue committees.
Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Ethics Watch challenged the Secretary of State’s rule, which would have made it much easier for political groups to avoid disclosing financial interests behind a ballot initiative. Last November, Judge Bruce A. Jones ruled that Gessler does not have the authority to raise the disclosure threshold for political issue committees from $200 to $5,000.
Voters approved the $200 limit when they passed a constitutional amendment in 2002.
In the ruling, the Court rejected Gessler’s claim of authority to rewrite the law, ruling that “the rule effectively modified and contravened Colorado campaign finance law by eliminating certain requirements of the [Campaign Finance] Amendment and the [Fair Campaign Practices Act.”
Colorado Common Cause Executive Director Elena Nunez said, “Voters overwhelmingly support full transparency in political campaigns. We’re pleased that court has blocked Secretary Gessler’s attempt to rewrite the law to allow secret money in issue committee campaigns.”
Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro said “This is a victory both for election transparency and the rule of law in Colorado. Rumors of the death of issue committee disclosure requirements have been greatly exaggerated.”