June 6, 2014 •
Colorado Deputy Secretary of State Issues Decision on Petition for Declaratory Order
On Thursday, June 5, Colorado Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert issued an agency decision in response to Citizens United’s petition for declaratory order. Citizens United requested its upcoming documentary be excluded from the definition of reportable electioneering communication by classifying it as one of the constitutional exemptions. The secretary of state found the communication does not fall within any exemptions and there is no general press-entity exemption to the definition of electioneering communication.
As Citizens United engages in communication for the primary purpose of influencing elections, it is exactly the type of entity to which reporting requirements apply. To rule otherwise would defeat the purpose of state campaign finance law and disregard the rationale behind full disclosure.
Moreover, the secretary of state found it does not have the authority to create a general press exemption to campaign finance reporting requirements. Although the Federal Election Commission applies such an exemption for Petitioner at the federal level, the secretary of state lacks the authority to import the FEC’s analysis and decision. Therefore, Petitioner’s remedy at the state level lies with courts in the form of litigation, with the legislature in the form of referendum, or with the people in the form of initiative.
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