Editorial: Colorado campaign finance law stifles free speech

From The Denver Post:  No fewer than two federal courts, one in 2010 and another again last year, have said that this state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act infringes on the free-speech rights of average Coloradans. The question is, will the legislature this year finally do anything about it?

The previous secretary of state, Scott Gessler, attempted to do something about it, but was knocked back by state courts, one of which rebuked him for “trying to amend the [Colorado] Constitution.”

Well, the legislature technically can’t amend the state constitution, either — but there happens to be this not-so-minor problem of federal courts saying the constitutional provision in question is trumped by the First Amendment. So Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Douglas County, is sponsoring Senate Bill 61 to try to remedy the problem.

Holbert’s bill addresses a state requirement that anyone who spends, alone or with associates, as little as $200 in support or against a ballot measure is officially considered an “issue committee” subject to complex reporting and registration mandates. So you’re an issue committee if you spend $200 publishing a paper opposing a state initiative (one of the actual federal cases) or in fighting a local annexation (the other federal case), and you’d better hire a lawyer.

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