Remaining anti-union ballot measure may go to courts

Amendment 54, the “clean government” initiative targeting union supporters and their family members, looks likely to pass, sparking what could be another costly legal battle.

So far the Rocky Mountain News is projecting Amendment 54 as having passed with 51 percent of the vote with 91 percent of precincts reporting, although other news organizations, including The Denver Post, have not called the race at this time.

The measure, which would ban political contributions given from certain labor unions and relatives of union supporters, was one of three measures targeting unions. The others proposals — Amendments 47 and 49 — were rejected by voters.

But even before the results came in, workers were afraid that Amendment 54 would take away their free speech rights and predicted a legal challenge:

“It includes language that includes relatives, so it wouldn’t just affect me, it would affect anyone related to me, and politicians would have no idea who to take money from,” [Joel Heinemann, president of Littleton Firefighters Association] told The Colorado Independent. “They’re going to need fingerprints and a retinal scan before they can take a dime from anybody. It’s just a mess.”

Clean Government Colorado, the campaign that has been supporting the measure, received more than $1.8 million from Colorado At Its Best, a tax-exempt nonprofit connected to the conservative Independence Institute think tank that bankrolled the amendment.

Because the money was given by a nonprofit that is not required to disclose its funders, the vast majority of the “clean government” campaign has been paid for by anonymous donors.

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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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