Court of Appeals Affirms Ethics Watch Win in Clear The Bench Case
Today, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling that Clear The Bench Colorado, a committee targeting three Supreme Court justices for defeat in the 2010 general election, violated Colorado campaign law by registering and acting as an issue committee rather than as a political committee subject to contribution limits. Ethics Watch filed a campaign finance complaint against Clear the Bench in May 2010, challenging Clear The Bench’s description of itself as an issue committee that could accept unlimited contributions under Amendment 27, passed in 2002. In September 2010, an administrative law judge agreed with Ethics Watch and ordered Clear The Bench to register as a political committee.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for keeping big money out of judicial elections in Colorado,” said Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch. “The plain language of Amendment 27 says that judges and justices in a retention election are to be treated as candidates so that we are protected from well-funded campaigns against judges who make rulings special interests don’t like. We’re proud to have won this case, but the real winners are the people of Colorado.”
Ethics Watch is extremely grateful to Robert Miller, Norton Cutler, Stephanie Dunn and the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP for their pro bono assistance in this case. Aaron Goldhamer and the law firm of Sherman & Howard LLC provided pro bono assistance in the trial stage of the case.