August 18, 2019

Legislation: Ritter Closes Citizens United Loopholes by Enacting SB 10-203 Election Law Reform

(.pdf), a Democratic-sponsored bill that will help cinch closed any loopholes in state campaign finance laws that opened as a result of the United States Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (.pdf) in January of this year.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora; Rep. Paul Weissmann, D-Boulder; and Rep. Karen Middleton, D-Aurora, requires corporations and labor unions to register their election campaign donations with an independent agency, showing both the donor and the amount of the donation. Said Sen. Morgan at yesterday’s signing:

American Democracy is built on a foundation of fair and free elections. To ensure fair and free elections, Colorado voters have consistently voted for transparency and accountability in the election process. We are protecting that legacy by holding corporations and unions to the same standards of accountability and transparency as we do for individuals.

With its Citizens United decision, the nation’s high court overturned a century-old position barring direct corporate advocacy of candidates running for political office, and gave corporations and unions the green light to purchase political ads in the 60-day run-up to elections. The decision quickly touched off a firestorm of criticism and controversy.

Of the state bill’s enactment, Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buescher remarked, “Colorado has a strong commitment to transparency for political spending and Senate Bill 203 attempts to capture how those dollars are used to support and oppose candidates in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision.”

Secretary Buescher was CBA CLE’s guest speaker at an expert panel discussion shortly after Citizens United was announced, at which he and fellow election law experts Ed Ramey, Martha Tierney, Richard Westfall, and Maurie Knaizer analyzed the constitutional ramifications of the SCOTUS opinion and reporting and compliance issues it was likely to raise.

To read Legal Connection’s previous coverage of legislative and case law developments following the Citizens United decision, see here.

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  1. […] controversial holding in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission earlier this year, the Colorado legislature carried and Governor Ritter signed into law SB 203. SB 203 requires corporations and labor unions to register their election campaign donations with […]

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