Ethics Watch Applauds Bipartisan Primary Disclosure Fix
Today, the Colorado House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 12-014, which establishes that biweekly campaign finance reports will be filed for several weeks before the primary election. The bill, sponsored by Sens. Bob Bacon (D-Fort Collins) and Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) and Reps. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) and Claire Levy (D-Boulder), synchronizes the statutory disclosure schedule with the new June primary date. Urgent action from the legislature became necessary because Secretary of State Scott Gessler attempted to use the failure to update the disclosure statute after the primary date change last year as justification for a regulation that would have eliminated biweekly reports before a primary altogether. Ethics Watch filed suit in Denver District Court challenging the rule on the ground that the Secretary of State has no authority to override statutory disclosure requirements. The legislature's Legal Services Committee voted 8-2 to reject the rule as exceeding the Secretary of State's authority, leading the Secretary to withdraw the rule on December 27. After the rule was withdrawn, Ethics Watch voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit. This paved the way for the legislature to reassert its authority over campaign finance statutes.
"We congratulate the legislature on its quick, bipartisan action to restore reasonable disclosure rules for the June primary," said Luis Toro, Director of Ethics Watch. "If Secretary of State Gessler had his way, voters would have been in the dark just as fundraising and spending pick up before the primary date. This is a victory for Coloradans from across the political spectrum who believe in the people's right to know about money in elections. We urge Governor Hickenlooper to sign this bill."