SOS Clarifies Home Rule County Political Party Reporting
Secretary of State Scott Gessler issued yesterday a revision to Colorado campaign finance rules, recommended by Ethics Watch, that will clarify the reporting system for county political party committees in the two Colorado Counties that have their own campaign finance rules.
In his February revision to the rules, Secretary Gessler adopted Rule 14.4, which permits county committees of political parties in home rule counties with their own campaign finance laws for local elections to raise funds in a separate account. There are two such counties in Colorado: Pitkin County and the City and County of Denver.
Ethics Watch raised concerns about the interaction between Rule 14.4 and another rule permitting unlimited transfers of funds between county and state party committees. In response, the Secretary issued a temporary rule closing that loophole. When the rules were considered for permanent adoption on July 31, Ethics Watch supported closure of the home rule loophole, but recommended clarifying the disclosure rule so that county party committees in the two affected counties would be required to report their other activity to be reported to the Secretary of State through the TRACER syste, The permanent rules, adopted yesterday, incorporate Ethics Watch's recommendation.
"We are pleased to work together with Secretary Gessler on this issue," said Luis Toro, Director of Ethics Watch. "The new rule honors Colorado's long tradition of home rule while also insuring that political party contributions and expenditures on matters of statewide concern are properly disclosed through the Secretary of State's TRACER system."
The Secretary of State's office supported Ethics Watch's position in a lawsuit over whether the City of Colorado Springs could refer a request for investigation of possible campaign finance violations in a municipal election to the Secretary of State. Ethics Watch and the Secretary of State agree that such matters fall under home rule jurisdiction, and both the Office of Administrative Courts and the Colorado Court of Appeals issued rulings requiring Colorado Springs to enforce its own campaign finance laws.