Colorado Springs city councilors want to explore tighter controls on campaign donations

Colorado Springs Independent: A nasty Colorado Springs City Council campaign in which one group spent at least $240,000 without identifying donors is spurring interest in taking a new look at local campaign finance rules.

Five members of the new Council, due to take office April 18, say they’re up for rethinking the city’s code, which allows unlimited donations and doesn’t restrict so-called “dark money” groups. Newly elected Richard Skorman, for instance, says he wants to place a measure on the 2019 city ballot limiting donations from individuals, political action committees (PACs) and corporations to $400 each per candidate.

That might be doable, because the city’s home-rule status allows it the authority to set its own campaign finance rules, separate from the state. But it’s unlikely a city ordinance would survive a court test if it undermines certain federal laws, which empower donors based on First Amendment protections of freedom of speech.

Also problematic are “social welfare” groups and other nonprofits that aren’t required to report who funds them; one of those is Colorado Citizens Protecting Our Constitution (CCPOC), which outspent all other PACs combined in this year’s Council races.

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