Kyle Harris (The Colorado Independent)- Few organizations bust Colorado’s power brokers in court as regularly as Colorado Ethics Watch. So when the organization’s attorney Peg Perl speaks — especially in a Buzzfeed listicle — Coloradans would be wise to listen.
Check out her post: “6 Scary Things You Need to Know About Colorado School Boards,” in which she uses GIF’s of pop culture icons including Darth Vader, Jerry Maguire and Napoleon (of Napoleon Dynamite) to explain troubling facts about the state’s rules governing school boards.
Crystal Anderson (Arvada Press). In the middle of a recall campaign seeking to drive him from office, Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt tried to make a big campaign splash by calling for the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) to investigate his alleged violations of Colorado’s open meetings law.
“This is a serious charge of unlawful behavior and it’s now going to be printed on an official election ballot. But for this accusation to be taken seriously, a complaint should have been filed,” Witt said during an Oct. 8 press conference.
Gabrielle Porter (Canyon Courier). School board president Ken Witt, one of three targets of a recall in the Nov. 3 election, has announced that he is requesting an investigation into himself by the state’s Independent Ethics Commission to counter ballot language that accuses the school board’s conservative majority of violating the Open Meetings Law.
The recall language on the ballot accuses Witt and board members John Newkirk and Julie Williams of “repeatedly violating Colorado open-meetings laws by secretly making major decisions behind closed doors.”
Nicholas Garcia (Chalkbeat Colorado). Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt, the target of a high-profile recall campaign, announced Thursday he is asking the state’s Independent Ethics Commission to weigh in on recall organizers’ claim that he violated state transparency laws.
“I’m simply calling their bluff,” Witt said at a news conference.
Peg Perl (Harvard Law & Policy Review)- Over the last 10 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down campaign finance spending bans and contribution limits while keeping disclosure requirements intact. According to the Brennan Center, the Roberts Court has invalidated six different major provisions in federal and state laws and “significantly reshaped the legal landscape dictating how much big money can flow into political races.”
However, even the Citizens United case almost unanimously (8-1) reiterated the constitutionality of the public disclosure requirements when individuals or corporations run advertisements during the final weeks of the campaign season naming a candidate (“electioneering communications”). As Professor Rick Hasen notes in his 2011 analysis of Citizens United, the Court re-emphasized that the voting public has an “informational interest” in knowing who is speaking about candidates even when those ads avoid specific calls to vote for or against the candidate.
Marianne Goodland (The Colorado Independent)- Jeffco School Board President Ken Witt Thursday said he would seek an advisory opinion with the Colorado Ethics Commission over possible violations by the board on the state’s open meetings law.
Problem is, the Ethics Commission will never act on his request.
Witt made his announcement Thursday morning before a room of reporters, stating he was “calling the bluff” of those who support the recall of himself, Julie Williams and John Newkirk, the three-member conservative board majority on the five-member Jefferson County School Board.
Gabrielle Porter (Canyon Courier)- Groups on both sides of the contentious Jeffco school board recall election have employed funding methods that conceal donors’ identities.
Since efforts to recall conservative board members John Newkirk, Ken Witt and Julie Williams were launched in late June, Jeffco residents have been inundated with information from both sides.
Paul Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- Gordon Klingenschmitt, the highly controversial Republican state representative from Colorado Springs, again is under fire — not for outlandish remarks about gays and lesbians as in the past, but for allegedly using his for-profit business to drum up money for his nonprofit, even as it was under suspension by the Secretary of State’s Office.
Klingenschmitt, who represents House District 15 in El Paso County, allegedly used for-profit GJK Inc. to solicit funds for his nonprofit Persuade the World/Pray in Jesus Name during the nonprofit’s suspension from Oct. 15, 2014, to Jan. 28, 2015, as previously reported by The Colorado Independent, a news website.
Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- This week City Councilor Helen Collins and her ally, anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce, filed an ethics complaint against “the Gang of 8” — her Council colleagues — as well as several other officials. The seven-page complaint, which cites 15 alleged breaches, comes amid efforts to schedule a hearing on Collins’ own ethics violations. But the latest complaint shouldn’t impede Council’s handling of Collins’ case, says Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch.
“This is kind of an old stunt,” Toro says. “The fact that she filed something against them doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t decide the case in front of them. Otherwise, it would be too easy for people to stunt their way out of an ethics complaint.”