Schrader: A sordid tale of Colorado campaign finance

The Denver Post: The best drama in Colorado politics isn’t occurring under the gold dome, but in a courtroom. And not even a criminal one, but in an administrative law court.

That’s where campaign finance disputes land in this state, and let me tell you, this one is a good one.

The characters in this dispute are half the intrigue. At issue is the important question of whether it’s OK for someone to set up a nonprofit to shield donors from disclosure even when that nonprofit works almost exclusively, through an affiliated entity, on campaigns for or against candidates.

Oh, and it also touches on questions of journalistic integrity.

Matt Arnold is a much-maligned stickler for campaign finance laws. He’s suing a 501(c)4 “social welfare” nonprofit run by former congressman and two-time gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez. Beauprez’s group is called Colorado Pioneer Action.

Arnold is no angel. In fact, he is a polarizing and litigious figure who frequently files nitpicky complaints against entities with which he has personal conflicts.

But there is a legitimate question in his complaint of whether what Beauprez did, which was to operate a social welfare 501(c)4 nonprofit alongside an independent expenditure committee to shield donors from campaign finance laws, violates state laws. The action is not unique and falls into a gray area in campaign finance law the courts should help clarify.

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