October 3, 2014 •
Colorado Republican Party Granted Permission to Form Super PAC
The Colorado Republican Party has been given permission to form an independent expenditure committee, or super PAC, because state law includes political parties under the definition of “persons.” A district court judge granted the party’s motion for summary judgment and will allow the group to raise and spend unlimited funds to aid in electing Republican candidates.
Earlier this year, the party asked Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler for permission to form the committee. Gessler said he did not have authority to issue permission but encouraged the party to sue the state to clear up the matter. Republican Attorney General John Suthers appears to have followed Gessler’s lead and essentially did not fight the suit.
Nonprofit campaign finance watchdog Ethics Watch intervened in the case and argued a political party should not be able to set up a super PAC – as the huge influx in campaign spending might make candidates, who need a party’s endorsement to get their name on the ballot, beholden to the super PAC’s contributors.
Colorado voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2002 prohibiting corporations and labor unions from directly supporting candidates or political parties. In his decision, Second District Court Judge Robert McGahey avoided the constitutional conflict and maintains it is legal to establish the super PAC as long as it is truly independent of the party.
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