Judge: Rocky Mountain Gun Owners violated election law, must pay fine

Buried in the deep black news-hole that was the Friday after Christmas Day came a decision in a Colorado campaign finance case filed against bare-knuckles right-wing political group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer found that mailer campaigns put together by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the Colorado Campaign for Life violated Colorado’s disclosure laws and ordered the groups each to pay $8450 each in fines.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has long been a bruising — some would say bullying — force in Colorado conservative politics. The group aims to move the state Republican Party to the right by targeting candidates and lawmakers that seem “soft” on what it considers core issues like gun rights and abortion. The group also opposes campaign finance disclosure laws as a whole, seeing them as a violation of First Amendment protections on free speech.

The decision comes after a complaint filed by watchdog nonprofit group Colorado Ethics Watch concerning mailers sent in swing districts during primary season attacking Republican candidates Lang Sias and Mario Nicolais and supporting candidates Laura Woods and Tony Sanchez. Judge Spencer ruled the mailers counted as “electioneering communications” because they cost the groups more than $1000 each and they came in the last 30 days before the primary election.

“The First Amendment is meant to help an informed people govern themselves. It is not a tool for special interests to manipulate the political process in secret,” said Luis Toro, Ethics Watch director, in a release. “It is time for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and Colorado Campaign for Life to pay their fines and obey the law like everyone else who spends money to electioneer in the last days before an election.”

Ethics Watch has posted court documents with its release here.

The case is likely to continue. Ethics Watch reported that the groups “hired a Washington, DC-area law firm to file a federal lawsuit… to block the hearing, arguing that Colorado’s disclosure law is unconstitutional.” Even though those efforts failed, they suggest the attorneys are likely to appeal Friday’s decision.

1 COMMENT

  1. There should be NO private money in elections AT ALL. What should matter is the actual content of an issue or the character of a candidate. These are NOT things that matter, now, all that matters is how much money one can shove into an issue to obscure the truth or reality of a situation or a person entirely.

    NO group should be allowed to make decisions at the ballot box for us, and that is just what is happening now. A perfect example is the recall election of the state senate president purely because he ALLOWED a vote on background checks THAT THE MAJORITY SUPPORTED. But a loud mouthed group got their way because they essentially rigged an election to get rid of Mr Morse. This is NOT what anyone founding this country OR state intended.

    Too much money in too few hands being used to corrupt those making our laws is NOT a way to have a country or a state. And we are no longer a country, at this point, as OUR voices mean nothing because of this private money.

    It’s good that these groups have to pay the piper, but get real, the damage is done, they have gotten what they want, and the rest of us STILL have to live under THEIR ILLEGAL desires. This is NOT how things are supposed to work, is it?

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