CO high court denies Gessler appeal, ending campaign finance disclosure case

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court yesterday ended a multi-year battle over campaign finance rules that pitted Secretary of State Scott Gessler against nonprofits Colorado Ethics Watch and Common Cause when the justices declined to accept Gessler’s appeal. The denial means Gessler’s 2012 rules reducing disclosure requirements for political committees and organizations have been overturned.

“Gessler’s rule was: You don’t have to disclose unless you say, ‘vote for.’ In fact, he had a little roadmap, ‘If you say X, Y, Z, you never have to disclose,” explained Luis Toro, Ethics Watch director. But that’s not how the law works, he said.

In declining to review the case, the Supreme Court let stand the ruling of Court of Appeals and the plain language of the Colorado Constitution, which requires funding disclosure for ‘electioneering speech,’ or voter mass communication that mentions candidates within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election.

The Secretary’s office did not respond to requests for comment regarding the decision.

One result of the court’s action, according to Ethics Watch, is that any group that ran an ad mentioning a candidate in the weeks before the 2014 elections is required to disclose its donors, including political documentary group Citizen’s United. The famous conservative politics group, known for battling disclosure requirements and winning at the U.S. Supreme Court, made a political documentary in Colorado this year and led an unsuccessful effort to circumvent Colorado’s disclosure laws in federal court.

“This is a victory for the voters’ right to cast an informed ballot,” said Toro.

[“Dollar People” via Truthout.org

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