Friday, October 3, 2014

Another "Win" for Campaign Finance Freedom

On September 20, 2014, a Colorado District Court ruled on the pending case regarding political party contribution limits for the Colorado Republican Party’s independent expenditure committee (IEC). District Judge Robert L. McGahey, Jr. granted summary judgment for the Colorado Republican Party (CRP).

This summary judgment permits CRP to sponsor, maintain and operate the IEC as would any other person under Colorado law.

This IEC has a set of Standing Rules which state:

All IEC activities and expenditures will be conducted independent of any CRP staff, and that the State Party Chairman may only remove a member of the IEC management committee for cause upon the recommendation of the majority of the management committee.   

Further, no member of the IEC management committee may hold any office or position within the regular political party organization of the CRP, nor may they serve as a delegate to any Republican assembly or convention where any Republican candidate is to be nominated or designated to the primary election ballot.

In their motion for summary judgment, the CRP argued that it is:

Entitled to summary judgment because under the Colorado Constitution, independent expenditures, which may be made by any person, are permissible so long as there is not coordination, and are not subject to contribution limits or source prohibitions.

Judge McGahey wrote:
Because political parties are “persons” in Colorado and C.R.S. § 1-45-107.5(2) does not prohibit certain persons from accepting independent expenditures, CRP may establish the IEC to accept independent expenditures subject to the reporting and disclosure provisions contained therein.

The Colorado Ethics Watch (CEW), who intervened in the case, tried to argue that the IEC is “controlled by and coordinates with” the CRP and therefore, is subject to the same contribution limits and prohibitions as the political party. Judge McGahey realized that the safeguards implemented by the CRP and the IEC to keep both entities separate are enough to do just that, keep activities separate. He stated,

CEW believes, but has offered no evidence that the IEC will, in the future, not abide by its own rules.

Judge McGahey ended his grant for summary judgment by saying:

Because CRP is a person in Colorado, it may establish the IEC, so long as the IEC is independent. I find no genuine issue of material fact exists regarding CRP’s control over or coordination with, or lack thereof, the IEC.

This summary judgment marks another win for campaign finance freedom.

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