Ethics Watch Urges SOS To Clarify Reporting Rule
Today, Ethics Watch's Director, Luis Toro, testified at a rulemaking hearing, and Ethics Watch submitted written comments to Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler regarding revisions to the Campaign and Political Finance Rules regarding home rule counties. Ethics Watch supports the proposed rule change that would close a loophole created in the February 2012 recodification of the campaign finance rules that could have allowed political parties to raise funds in the two home rule Colorado counties that have their own campaign finance laws - Pitkin County and the City and County of Denver - and transfer those funds to other levels of the party. New Rule 6.3.2 closes the loophole by banning political parties from transferring funds raised in a separate account for use in home rule elections to other levels of the party.
Ethics Watch recommended changes to proposed Rule 6.3.1 to make sure that county party committees in all 64 Colorado counties file reports with the Secretary of State. Ethics Watch is concerned that, as written, the rule would excuse county committees of political parties in Pitkin County and Denver from filing any reports with the Secretary of State, even regarding their non-home rule activities. Ethics Watch's proposed revision would make clear that those party committees would continue to report their non-home rule activity to the Secretary of State.
In April, Ethics Watch and Common Cause filed suit against the Secretary of State, asking the Denver District Court to set aside several new rules adopted in February 2012. One of the rules being challenged was the rule regarding political party committees in home rule counties. The proposed change to the rules regarding county political party committees in home rule counties will remove that issue from the pending suit.
"We are glad that Secretary Gessler has listened to the concerns raised by Ethics Watch and others and closed the potential loophole for undisclosed money to flow to political parties through Denver and Aspen," said Toro. "We are offering constructive suggestions to the Secretary of State's office to revise the disclosure rule in a way that respects Colorado's strong tradition of respecting local home rule while also ensuring that all contributions to political parties in elections of statewide concern are disclosed and searchable on-line through the Secretary of State's TRACER website."