THE BLOG

Why We're Suing Colorado SOS Scott Gessler

04/25/2012 05:38 pm ET | Updated Jun 25, 2012

New Rules Are a Welcome Mat to Political Corruption

Colorado's Secretary of State Scott Gessler has just put into effect a new set of political financing and disclosure rules that open up new opportunities to hide big money in politics from the public's view, throwing out the welcome mat to potential, political corruption in Colorado.

As a candidate for State Senate District 27 seat (Centennial area), and believing that the public always deserves to know who is backing what candidates, I felt that had to throw in with others and file suit to block these new rules.

This latest effort by Gessler is an insult to our state's citizens; they roll back campaign finance disclosures and prevent Colorado voters from knowing who is funding political campaigns, a right we have today. They bring political spending in Colorado to new lows.

With these new rules in place, the Secretary of State has made it possible for a county or city political party where there's home rule to funnel money to its state party with no reporting of who is donating funds, no matter how much. He also loosens the restrictions on when a political party, issue committee or other political organization must document contributions and expenditures, making it possible for special interests to avoid disclosure. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in political spending would be obscured as a result.

Colorado's constitution has long protected voters and citizens from back-room funding of local candidates and campaigns, but now the Secretary of State wants to turn the tables around so that millions of dollars could be potentially funneled into political use without the public knowing about it.

This ignores our state's constitutional protections against secret money in politics; it violates every sense that we have that political money has to be out in the open so we know who is being supported by what interests, and how. Voters deserve to know that.

My co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in Denver District Court, are Mike Cerbo, Colorado AFL-CIO executive director, Pro-Choice Colorado, the PPRM Ballot Issue Committee, and Citizens for Integrity, Inc. We are asking the court to stay the Gessler rules because the Secretary of State has overstepped the authority and legal bounds of his office. Our suit also says that the rules are in violation of Colorado's clearly-defined constitutional requirements for political contributions and spending.

It's been a long-time right for voters in our state to know who is backing whom and what, and Scott Gessler has no right to change that.