Small Donor Rule Preliminary Injunction Upheld

A unanimous three judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals today upheld a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Secretary of State from enforcing an election rule promulgated by Republican Secretary of State Gigi Dennis with the approval of Republican Attorney General John Suthers’ office. 

The regulation would have greatly restricted contributions made by union members through small donor committees, by requiring more written authorization from small donors than had previously been thought to be required.  The ruling should help Democrats in the 2006 election, since small donor committees usual give more to Democrats than to Republicans.The 43 page ruling of the Court of Appeals held that the trial judge in Denver who has imposed the preliminary injunction had correctly interpreted the law regarding the power of the Secretary of State to promulgate regulations, and had not abused his discretion in issuing a preliminary injunction.  The case now returns to the trial court where further evidentiary hearings and/or briefing may be conducted before the preliminary injunction can be made final.  This will likely happen too late for the rule to have an impact on the 2006 election.

Those contesting the rule claimed, and the trial court agreed that it was likely that, that the Secretary of State had exceeded her rulemaking authority in connection with the small donor committee rule, and that as applied in this rule, it raised serious constitutional issues under the 1st and 14th Amendments.

Republican Governor Owens had supported Gigi Dennis in her appeal.

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Andrew Oh-Willeke

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