A federal court judge makes a major ruling on a campaign finance case.

Govdelivery banner

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page
Bookmark and Share

 News Release


                                                                          MEDIA CONTACT: (303) 860-6903

                                                                                      Lynn Bartels 


                                                                                                                  Julia Sunny



  Colorado's campaign finance enforcement mechanism struck by federal court

DENVER, June 12, 2018 -- A U.S. federal court judge today issued an order that has major implications for Colorado’s enforcement of its campaign finance laws.

Judge Raymond Moore ruled that portions of Colorado’s campaign finance procedures allowing private citizens to file complaints are unconstitutional. The enforcement procedures struck down today were placed in Colorado's constitution via the initiative process.

The case involves Strasburg parent Tammy Holland, who placed ads in her local newspaper concerning a school board race. The school superintendent filed a complaint against Holland with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

"The court's ruling leaves in place the substantive requirements of Colorado's campaign finance law but strikes down the enforcement mechanism," Secretary of State Wayne Williams said today. "We are considering our options for further review but in the meantime we will work collaboratively with interested parties to adopt temporary rules providing an enforcement mechanism.

"We also will work to address the matter legislatively during the 2019 legislative session."

The Institute for Justice took up Holland’s case in 2016. “Colorado has essentially outsourced the enforcement of its campaign-finance laws to every politico with an ax to grind,” IJ senior attorney Paul Sherman said at the time. 

Although IJ sued Williams in his official capacity, Williams has expressed concerns to the legislature about Colorado’s system of enforcement. Private citizens file complaints with his office, which are then automatically forwarded without review for merit to an administrative law judge for review.

Williams already has successfully worked with the legislature to provide campaign finance training for administrative law judges and to lessen some of the burdensome campaign finance rules and regulations while preserving public disclosure. One measure signed into law gives candidates a time period to fix reports once an error is discovered. Before, they racked up major fines even for minor technical violations.