Jeffrey Roberts (Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition)- It’s been on the books since the state legislature adopted the Colorado Open Records Act nearly a half-century ago: Anyone who “willfully and knowingly” violates the statute is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine.
But on Aug. 9, when Senate Bill 17-040 goes into effect (barring a referendum petition against it), the criminal penalty in CORA will disappear. Lawmakers erased the provision in the same legislation that clarifies the public’s right to obtain copies of public records kept in digital formats.
Does that matter? The change leaves only one method – civil litigation – for enforcing CORA violations.
Click here to read the full story by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
Jason Salzman (Colorado Times Recorder)- It’s been three months since a Denver judge ordered Colorado Pioneer Action (CPA), a political committee run by former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO), to pay a $17,735 fine for violating campaign finance laws and to register formally as political committee, requiring CPA to disclose its donors.
But Beauprez hasn’t produced the cash or the names of the donors. What’s up?
After Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Robert Spencer issued his ruling that CPA failed to register and file reports as a political committee during the last election, CPA appealed, and Matt Arnold of Campaign Integrity Watchdog (CIW), which brought the case against CPA, guesses the case won’t be heard for a few months, at the earliest.
Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Times Recorder.
The American Legislative Exchange Council—more commonly known as ALEC—is holding their annual meeting in Denver from July 19 to 21, 2017. In response, a coalition of organizations held a teach-in on Saturday, July 15th in Denver to educate the public about ALEC’s negative impact on economic, environmental, and social issues. Ethics Watch Executive Director Luis Toro spoke as the expert on money in politics on the main panel at the event. He also partnered with Carla Castedo of Mi Familia Vota Colorado to teach a break-out session on efforts to make voting more difficult and to encourage more corporate money in politics.
Joey Bunch (Colorado Politics)- The MVP of good government and public policy at the Colorado Capitol is changing jerseys. Peg Perl, tenacious senior attorney for Colorado Ethics Watch, is starting a consulting firm, Democracy TNG.
She’s also thinking about running for local office in Denver in 2019. That’s as much of an announcement as she’s making right now. If history is any guide, Perl will be tough to beat. Heck, just last month Law Week Colorado named her one of the top six women lawyers in the state.
Perl’s bio reads like that of a public policy lifetime achievement award winner. She seamlessly combined law and honest government advocacy with Ethics Watch since 2012. Perl chairs the Women’s Lobby of Colorado working on issues that impact women and families, such as health care and workplace equity.
Click here to read the full story in Colorado Politics.
Steve Zanzberg (The Coloradoan)- On Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law Senate Bill 17-40, which was introduced by Sen. John Kefalas (D, Fort Collins).
All Coloradans owe both men, and several other elected officials, a huge debt of gratitude. The new law makes express a guarantee that those of us in the “records requester community” had previously argued was implicit in the Colorado’s Open Records Act: the right of all Coloradans to receive digitized copies of public records that the government maintains in a digitized format.
Click here to read the full story in the Coloradoan.
Dan Njegomir (Colorado Politics)- Legislation intended to keep federal water flowing to Colorado’s hemp crop — a growing industry in the state, if you’ll forgive the expression — has unexpectedly led to an anonymous accusation that the bill’s sponsor has a conflict of interest. So says a report in the Durango Herald.
Spoiler alert: The law seems to be on the sponsor’s side, as the Herald reports.
Senate Bill 117, adopted by lawmakers in the 2017 session and now awaiting the governor’s signature, was supposed to quell controversy, not cause it. As explained in a press release by the state Senate Republican majority when the bill was approved by the legislature last month, industrial hemp is misunderstood because of its association with marijuana, and that has led to bad policy by the federal government:
After Colorado voters approved hemp’s cultivation as part of a broader legalization of marijuana, questions arose about the legality of using federal reclamation water to grow a crop often wrongly confused with marijuana.
Montrose Republican state Sen. Don Coram, who introduced the measure, said in the press release that the bill “ensures that Washington can’t deny hemp growers access to water from federal reclamation projects, due to disagreements between Washington and Denver on drug and farm policies.”
Click here to read the full story in Colorado Politics.
Erica Meltzer (Denverite)- A group of Denver campaign finance reform advocates are trying to place an ordinance on the November ballot that would allow for public financing of municipal elections, reduce the amount of money candidates can take from individual donors and ban corporate and union donations.
Right now this effort is going by the motherhood-and-apple-pie title “Democracy for the People,” and proponents hope to start circulating petitions in a few weeks. Opponents say there are better uses for public dollars, but the backers of this measure point to evidence from other cities that public financing increases participation in politics by regular people.
“This would modernize and reform local campaign finance laws to make sure it’s open and accessible and most importantly accountable to the people,” said Jon Biggerstaff, executive director of Clean Slate Now, the group behind the initiative. Biggerstaff ran unsuccessfully for the State Senate on a platform that prioritized campaign finance. Clean Slate Now was founded by former Colorado Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon to work on reducing the influence of money in politics.
Click here to read the full story in the Denverite.