by Chet Hardin
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law today the first bill to make its way through the state Legislature.
The bill, SB 12-014, will update the schedule for disclosure requirements for candidates, committees and political parties, to reflect the June primaries.
As it stood before this legislation, the biweekly disclosure reports were to begin the first Monday in July — which would have been effectively useless to the voters in primaries. Now, thanks to the bipartisan bill co-sponsored by the Springs' Republican Rep. Bob Gardner, the disclosures will begin the first Monday in May.
According to a statement from Colorado Ethics Watch lauding the bill's passage, this was a necessary move after Secretary of State Scott Gessler attempted to use the change in the primary date as a reason to do away with the disclosure requirement altogether.
From the statement:
Ethics Watch filed suit in Denver District Court challenging the rule on the ground that the Secretary of State has no authority to override statutory disclosure requirements. The legislature's Legal Services Committee voted 8-2 to reject the rule as exceeding the Secretary of State's authority, leading the Secretary to withdraw the rule on December 27. After the rule was withdrawn, Ethics Watch voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit. This paved the way for the legislature to reassert its authority over campaign finance statutes.
From Luis Toro, director of Ethics Watch:
"We congratulate the legislature on its quick, bipartisan action to restore reasonable disclosure rules for the June primary. If Secretary of State Gessler had his way, voters would have been in the dark just as fundraising and spending pick up before the primary date. This is a victory for Coloradans from across the political spectrum who believe in the people's right to know about money in elections. We urge Governor Hickenlooper to sign this bill."