Tenth Circuit Court shoots down Colorado's campaign finance requirement

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November 10, 2010

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DENVER, Colorado: Colorado campaign finance requirements for small groups supporting or opposing a ballot measure is burdensome according to a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.[1]

The court's decision came about while reviewing a state law that requires that two or more people who spend more than $200 to report spending. The burden of such laws, the court said, outweighs ensuring the interest in ensuring fair elections. Specifically the case stemmed from a complaint filed against six homeowners who fought annexation in 2006 in the City of Parker. The six-person group raised and spent less than $1,000.[2]

"Colorado law, as applied to the plaintiffs, has violated their constitutional freedom of association. There is virtually no proper governmental interest in imposing disclosure requirements on ballot-initiative committees that raise and expend so little money," said the court.[3]

According to state law, all groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure are considered to be issue committees. Colorado law imposes $50 per day fines on committees that spend as much as $200 on a ballot measure and do not report. All committees are required to file campaign finance reports for any and all contributions of $20 or more.[4][5]

According to recent reports, the Colorado Secretary of State's office is still considering an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.[3]

The court's ruling can be read here.

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References