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Monthly Archives: Dec 2015

SOS Goes Easy On Undisclosed Lobbying

Yesterday, the Colorado Secretary of State ruled that American Lands Council (ALC) did not violate Colorado lobbying law by sending an email to Colorado citizens urging them to support a measure to study the privatization of federal public land in Colorado.

According to Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert, the ALC’s email was similar to a “one-time occurrence” under which “a corporate newsletter includes a small item encouraging readers to contact legislators urging them to support or oppose a particular bill” that a previous Deputy Secretary had found not to rise to a level requiring registration. To the contrary, the ALC’s message of support of the bill was the sole subject of the email, not a small item in a newsletter about other topics.

“Unfortunately, the Secretary of State’s office is continuing to err on the side of not enforcing Colorado’s disclosure laws,” said Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro. “We are disappointed to see the current Secretary continue the lax policies of his predecessor and keep opening the door to more unregistered lobbying that violates Colorado’s strict law requiring disclosure of all corporate spending to influence legislators. We fear that the exemption created solely by Deputy Secretary decision will continue to expand, denying Coloradans their right to know who is spending money to lobby legislators. For American Lands Council, however, the message is clear: while they may have gotten away with it this time, future lobbying in Colorado must be conducted in full compliance with our disclosure law.”

Click here to read the full decision >>

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Conservatives burned money on JeffCo races. Unions spent big and won

Marianne Goodland (The Colorado Independent)-

The Independence Institute, Americans for Prosperity and other conservative groups sank hundreds of thousands of dollars into the 2015 school board races and ended up with no wins to show for it in at least two Colorado school districts.

Final campaign finance reports for the 2015 election, which came out on December 3, showed these groups spent nearly a half-million dollars on the Jefferson County school board recall races alone, and that’s only in money that’s traceable through the state’s campaign finance website or through open records requests… Click Here to read full article >>

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TABOR is Jabba the Hutt: Peg Perl’s Buzzfeed political observations

Kyle Harris (The Colorado Independent)-

As lawyers go, Peg Perl’s pretty fierce. She knows all about state government, ethics, courts, judges and laws. But she has other talents as well. Perl can make some pretty funny viral meme’s on Buzzfeed to explain the ins-and-outs of Colorado politics. Remember her listicle showing the horror of Colorado school board rules?

Now, Perl’s back at it — this time in the days after the new Star Wars movie came out (no spoilers please) — with a crack at what the 2016 Colorado Statehouse session is going to be like… Continue Reading Here >>

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Nonprofit that gave big to successful Jeffco school board recall effort broke state law, judge finds

Nicholas Garcia (Chalkbeat Colorado)-

A nonprofit that launched in May broke state law when it made a large donation to the successful recall effort of three Jefferson County school board members and did not disclose its donors, a Colorado administrative judge decided Thursday.

As part of the decision, the nonprofit Jeffco United was fined $1,000 and ordered to register with the secretary of state as a political committee and disclose its donors within 10 days… Click Here to read full article >>

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Jeffco’s recall free-for-all spurs call for campaign finance reform

Gabrielle Porter (Canyon Courier)-

An ethics watchdog group has called for state campaign finance reform in the wake of the release of contribution figures from the Jeffco school district’s contentious recall election.

While any change to the Colorado Constitution, which specifies how elections are conducted, would require a statewide vote, Peg Perl, senior counsel for Colorado Ethics Watch, said Colorado legislators can take several steps to bring more transparency to local elections…click here to read the full article in The Canyon Courier.

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No #SpoilerAlert Needed for Colorado School Board Elections Spending

Peg Perl (Huffington Post)-

Imagine you have been binge-watching episodes of your latest obsession on Netflix and just at the moment a major plot twist will be explained (like #whoshotannalise), the screen goes dark. NO! Now you’ll never know who it was?!

Coloradans may soon have that same feeling about who was actually behind the dramatic wins and losses of the 2015 School Board elections. The big reveal is supposed to be on December 3, when post-election spending reports are due to be filed with the Secretary of State. But a combination of state laws treating school board elections differently than other state candidate elections and the post-Citizens United boom in non-candidate group spending will have voters shaking their heads in the dark… Click here to read the full story in the Huffington Post.

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Why Petty Corruption Matters

Luis Toro (Colorado Independent) –

Two recent scandals involving county commissioners show that while Colorado has a reputation for clean government, we’re not immune from public corruption.

A Grand County Commissioner recently pleaded guilty to embezzling public property valued at “a few thousand dollars” and resigned. Former Commissioner James Newberry was caught filing phony reimbursement requests for meetings he didn’t attend.

Meanwhile, in Elbert County, Commissioner Robert Rowland signed a county check to reimburse himself for a $1,000 fine a judge had ordered him to pay to the county, causing a storm of lawsuits that threatens to cost the county tens of thousands of dollars… Click here to read the full story in The Colorado Independent.

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A shockingly bad report card for state governments

Peg Perl (Harvard Law and Policy Review) –

Many of us know state government is often the better venue for a particular court case or legislative initiative. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brandeis praised states as “laborator[ies]” of democracy. Earlier this year, a poll found that over 60% of Americans thought state and local government were more likely to provide better policy solutions than Congress. But we must trust in the integrity and transparency of a laboratory if we are going to abide by its results. According to the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, none of the fifty state governments deserve that trust… Click here to read the full article >>

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