February 23, 2012 •
Critics Say Changes Beyond Secretary of State’s Authority
Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced on Wednesday the adoption of a recodified set of rules concerning Colorado campaign financing aimed at simplifying the state’s campaign finance process. Among the most notable changes to be made, total fines for late or incomplete campaign finance reports are now to be limited to $50 per day for up to 180 days for a maximum fine of $9,000.
Additionally, Gessler’s office will continue to utilize the $5,000 threshold at which issue committees must register and report, created by Gessler’s adoption of Campaign and Political Finance Rule 4.27, despite a state district court ruling Gessler did not have the authority to increase the threshold from the constitutionally-mandated figure of $200 after a finding by the court determining the threshold to be too burdensome.
Also, in accordance with the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision released the day prior to Gessler’s release of the recodified campaign finance rules, a 527 political group is limited to accepting up to $550 from any person every two years if the 527 group is engaging in express advocacy for a particular candidate by use of certain “magic words” such as “vote for” or “elect.”
Critics of Gessler have claimed the changes made are outside his authority and a legal challenge is expected. The rules are scheduled to temporarily take effect on March 7, 2012, with the rules being permanently effective on March 30, 2012.
November 21, 2011 •
Appeal of Ruling is Planned
The Denver District Court has ruled Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler did not have the authority to raise contribution thresholds concerning when state issue committees have to register and report their activity.
At issue was Gessler’s adoption of Campaign and Political Finance Rule 4.27, which increased from $200 to $5,000 the threshold at which an issue committee must register and report. The $200 threshold, set by the Colorado Constitution, was found to be too burdensome in the recent Colorado case of Sampson v. Buescher.
The court determined that, despite the conflict, Gessler’s alteration of the constitutionally mandated $200 threshold was an impermissible unilateral alteration of the Colorado Constitution. Gessler plans to appeal the ruling.
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