Skirting Amendment 41

If you’re looking for alternatives to a newly passed constitutional amendment, look no further than the Internet.

A legal list is circulating on-line about Amendment 41, which bars public officials from receiving lobbyist gifts that exceed $50 in value.  For instance, a memorandum from lobbyist Robert Ferm on the Economic Development Council of Colorado’s (EDCC) website explains what is permitted under the new law.

The memo is dated early December:

As the Article is implemented, exceptions stated in the text are expected to shape interpretations and discussion.  For example, the absolute ban on gifts is modified by provisions indicating that gift or thing of value are not covered if they are:

  • A campaign contribution as defined by law (presumably as regulated by the state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act).
  • An unsolicited item of trivial value less than $50, such as a pen, calendar, plant, book, note pad or other similar item.
  • An unsolicited token or award of appreciation in the form of a plaque, trophy, desk item, wall memento, or similar item (whether the $50 limit applies is not stated but presumably applies based on the overall text of the Article).
  • Unsolicited informational material, publications, or subscriptions related to the recipient’s performance or official duties (again, the $50 limit is not mentioned but expected to apply).
  • Admission to, and the cost of food or beverages consumed at, a reception, meal or meeting by an organization before whom the recipient appears to speak or answer questions as part of a scheduled program (applicability of the $50 limit?).
  • Reasonable expenses paid by a nonprofit organization or other state or local government for attendance at a convention, fact-finding mission or trip, or other meeting if the person is scheduled to deliver a speech, make a presentation, participate on a panel, or represent the state or local government as long as the non-profit organization receives less than 5% of its funding from for-profit organizations or entities.
  • Given by an individual who is a relative or personal friend of the recipient on a special occasion4 (unless that individual This part of the Article does not forbid a gift to a public officers, member of the general assembly, local government official or government employee who is also a member of the lobbyist’s immediate family. is also a professional lobbyist).
  • A component of the compensation paid or other incentive given to the recipient in the normal course of employment.

The Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) also has the same list regarding the new law, along with lobbying firm Axiom Strategies, Inc (PDF).

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About the Author

Erin Rosa

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature.

Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state.

Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters.

She can be reached at erosa@coloradoindependent.com.

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