April 21, 2014

Colorado Supreme Court: Political Ads Did Not Constitute Express Advocacy and Therefore Groups Not Subject to Regulation as Political Committees

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Colorado Ethics Watch v. Senate Majority Fund, LLC on February 21, 2012.

Campaign Finance—Express Advocacy.

The Supreme Court held that “express advocacy” is limited to speech that contains either the “magic words” as set forth in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 44 n.52 (1976), or to substantially similar synonyms as explained in League of Women Voters v. Davidson, 23 P.3d 1266, 1277 (Colo.App. 2001). The Court further held that none of the political advertisements at issue constituted express advocacy, and therefore neither the Senate Majority Fund nor the Colorado Leadership Fund was subject to regulation as political committees. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the court of appeals’ decision upholding the administrative law judge’s dismissal for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted.

Summary and full case available here.

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