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Monthly Archives: Apr 2016

“I’m a public servant, and I’m not a public slave.” Colorado DA defends 6 1/2 weeks vacation

Katy Canada (Denver Post)- Colorado’s 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown took more than 6½ weeks off work in 2015, an amount far greater than that taken by his senior attorneys and some of his peers.

Brown, elected in 2013 and seeking re-election this year, said the rules spelled out in the district’s time-off policy don’t apply to him because he’s an elected official. He also said he isn’t required to keep track of how many vacation days he takes.

Click here to read the full story in the Denver Post.


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Lawyer trying to get Jon Keyser on the ballot also represents the state GOP

Corey Hutchins (Colorado Independent)- The attorney who filed a lawsuit to help former lawmaker Jon Keyser secure a spot on the U.S. Senate Republican primary ballot also advises the Colorado Republican Party.

The state GOP pledges to remain neutral in Republican primaries. Party spokesman Kyle Kohli says there are only a handful of attorneys who do the kinds of political work needed by the party and by Keyser’s campaign. Others contacted for this story also pointed to the small pool of Republican election attorneys in Colorado.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Independent.

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Perl: Can new judicial emergency in Colorado spur action on stalled nomination process?

Peg Perl (Colorado Statesman)- Last week, after just a single day of court operations with six active judges and an empty judgeship, Colorado’s federal trial court caseload rose to a staggering 631 cases per judgeship. This prompted the nonpartisan Administrative Office of the United States Courts to declare the vacant seat on the U.S. District Court for Colorado a “judicial emergency” — one of only 34 in the nation. A technical re-calculation of the formula by the office dropped Colorado and five other federal judicial vacancies off the list this week, but the reprieve is temporary, at best. Caseload per judge will continue to rise and the calculations are done weekly.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Colorado has been limping along with only seven judges since 1984, despite a population explosion and increased federal government offices moving to Colorado as a regional hub for activity. Chief District Court Judge Marcia Krieger warned us two years ago that “the storm clouds are on the horizon” with regard to large caseloads creating delays for Colorado citizens and businesses seeking to resolve disputes in federal court.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Statesman.

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House votes for disclosure of independent spending on ads touting political parties

Jeffrey Roberts (Colorado FOIC) – The Colorado House voted Monday to require independent groups and individuals to disclose expenditures when they buy ads, billboards and mailings that mention only political parties.

Disclosure currently is required when such communications mention candidates, but not when they generally suggest that you support Democrats or Republicans.

Under HB 16-1434, which was sent to the Senate on a 34-31 vote, any entity spending $1,000 or more on this type of communication within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election would have to file a report with the Colorado Secretary of State.

Such ads also would have to include “paid for by” disclaimers. And if they are produced in coordination with a political party, the party must also report the spending.

Click here to read the full story at the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition blog.

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Court: Ethics Commission’s frivolous complaint rulings are final

Marianne Goodland (Colorado Independent) — Once Colorado’s secretive Independent Ethics Commission dismisses a complaint as frivolous, it cannot be appealed to any higher court.

That’s the decision the Colorado Supreme Court made today on a 4-3 ruling.

The case involved Colorado Ethics Watch, which filed an an ethics complaint against an Elbert County commissioner, which the Ethics Commission dubbed frivolous.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Independent.

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CO Supreme Court ends Rowland case

Today, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that decisions of the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) to dismiss a complaint as frivolous are not subject to judicial review. The ruling overturned a Denver District Court judge’s determination that a suit by Ethics Watch challenging the dismissal of a complaint against Elbert County Commissioner Robert Rowland, for voting to spend county funds on an appeal of a campaign finance award against him personally, could go forward. The Court ruled that a state statute authorizing judicial review of “any final action” by the IEC on a complaint could not constitutionally reach decisions by the IEC not to proceed on a complaint because the legislature does not have power to enact such a statute and because the IEC is barred from disclosing a complaint ruled frivolous even to a court.

In dissent, Justice Richard Gabriel stated that “the majority’s opinion undermines a primary purpose of the IEC, namely, to preserve public confidence in government.”

Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro issued the following statement: “Obviously we are disappointed with today’s decision. Notably, the Supreme Court did not rule that the IEC was correct to dismiss our complaint; they merely held that the action was beyond judicial review. The Supreme Court has granted sweeping power to the IEC; we can only hope the Commission uses this power wisely.”Colorado Supreme Court

Read the decision here: In re Colorado Ethics Watch v. Independent Ethics Commission

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Groups may take aim at Denver campaign finance, ethics rules

Jon Murray (Denver Post)- Colorado Common Cause and several other local groups say they soon may unveil a proposed ballot initiative aimed at reining in campaign contribution limits and creating a public financing system for Denver city elections.

“We’re at a historic point now in terms of both low faith in government and its accessibility to regular people,” says Peg Perl, senior counsel to Colorado Ethics Watch, which is among the groups working on the potential measure for city voters in November. Add to that the flood of money in last year’s municipal elections, when Mayor Michael Hancock raised more than $1.3 million and total contributions to city candidates surpassed $4 million, and Perl says the result for many voters is disillusionment.

Click here to read the full story in the Denver Post.

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Lieutenant governor nominee Donna Lynne donated to Democrats

Joey Bunch (Denver Post)- Probably not the most surprising news you’ll hear today: Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s lieutenant governor nominee, Donna Lynne, has donated to his campaigns and the Democratic Party.

The National Institute on Money in State Politics released a report Monday that indicates 86 percent of the $50,099 Lynne and her co-workers at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Permanente Colorado gave from 2000 through 2015 supported Democrats.

Click here to read the full story in the Denver Post.

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KC Becker: Two steps toward campaign finance reform

KC Becker (Boulder Daily Camera)- Another presidential election season is upon us, delivering a million reminders of the influence of money in politics. No matter which candidates you support, I think you’ll agree that our political process is warped when elections can be bought by candidates who may not win the contest of ideas but happen to have the biggest super PACS, the friendliest 527s or the deepest pockets.

I’m sponsoring two measures in the Colorado legislature that will begin to help us see through the murk. One bill, which the House approved unanimously last week and is headed to the Senate, puts school board elections on the same campaign finance disclosure schedule as other Colorado elections. Another bill requires disclosure of contributions of ads touting political parties. Currently, the ads fall through the cracks of reporting requirements because they may not mention a particular candidate.

Click here to read the full story in the Boulder Daily Camera.

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Colorado’s case backlog elevates it to ‘judicial emergency’

Monica Mendoza (Denver Business Journal)- Colorado has been added to the states where “judicial emergencies” exist because of bench vacancies, according to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. The new status comes one day after U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn took senior status, which carries a reduced caseload. There now are 34 judicial emergencies across the country.

Judicial emergencies are declared for District Court when the vacancy results in weighted filings that are in excess of 600 per judge. According to the U.S. Courts’ website, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado now has weighted filings of 631 per judge.

Click here to read the full story in the Denver Business Journal.

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