December 11, 2017

Colorado Court of Appeals: Independent Expenditure Committee Not Required to Disclose Donation to Pay Legal Fees

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Campaign Integrity Watchdog, LLC v. Colorado Republican Party Independent Expenditure Committee on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Campaign Finance Laws—Independent Expenditure Committee.

Campaign Integrity Watchdog LLC (CIW) alleged that the Colorado Republican Party Independent Expenditure Committee (CORE) violated various campaign finance laws. CIW’s claims stemmed from two earlier campaign finance proceedings against CORE. An administrative law judge (ALJ) imposed a penalty of $200 against CORE in the first case, and in the second case, an ALJ imposed a $600 aggregate penalty and awarded $255 in costs. The Colorado Republican Party paid these amounts on CORE’s behalf. CORE did not disclose these payments on its periodic campaign finance disclosure reports. Around the same time, a private party paid $50,000 to a law firm to settle CORE’s legal expenses. CORE disclosed this payment as a “contribution” in its periodic campaign finance disclosure report.

CIW alleged that CORE did not comply with the disclosure requirements of Colo. Const. art. 28, the Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA), and the Colorado Secretary of State’s Rules Concerning Campaign and Political Finance. CIW maintained that the payments by the Republican Party should have been disclosed as “donations” or “contributions” and the payments should have been disclosed as “expenditures.” The ALJ granted CORE’s motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5).

On appeal, CIW again contended that CORE was required to report some payments as donations or contributions, and all payments as expenditures. CORE was not required to report some payments as donations because (1) the donations were not made for the purpose of an independent expenditure and so were not required to be reported; (2) the law requiring some entities to report contributions does not apply to an independent expenditure committee; and (3) the payments here were not expenditures under the relevant statutory and constitutional definitions.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Speak Your Mind

*