Despite the decision of an administrative judge, the opinion of top legal teams and a past state attorney general, and the penalties spelled out in its own city code, the city of Colorado Springs apparently still does not believe that it needs to enforce its own election laws.
On April 28, the city appealed a decision by an administrative law judge who previously dismissed a case against then-City Council candidate Doug Bruce and his "Reform Team." The candidates were accused of improper campaign filings. The judge said the state has no jurisdiction over the case, and that Colorado Springs needed to prosecute the case through its municipal courts — a process that is laid out in City Code.
But Colorado Springs officials apparently have no appetite for enforcing their laws, and still think the state must do it. Other home-rule cities in the state enforce their own campaign finance laws.
In response to the appeal, Colorado Ethics Watch, which originally raised the issue of the improper filings, has issued a statement condemning the city's actions, and stating that it's time for the city to enforce its laws.
Here is the statement:
In response to the City of Colorado Springs’ filing of an appeal of State Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer’s ruling that the city must enforce its own home rule election laws, Colorado Ethics Watch called on the city to drop the appeal and pursue the investigation of Douglas Bruce and the Reform Team PAC in the municipal court system.
“As a home rule city, Colorado Springs is responsible for enforcing its own campaign finance laws. The law on this is so clear that Judge Spencer dismissed the case and sent it back to the city for prosecution without even waiting for a response from us. For the city to take this to the Court of Appeals is a waste of time and money,” said Luis Toro, Director of Ethics Watch.
“If city officials are not comfortable pursuing campaign finance violations through the municipal courts, then they should ask City Council to change the ordinance, not file an appeal. Ethics Watch stands ready to work with the winner of the runoff election for Mayor and the new City Council to develop reforms to Colorado Springs’ municipal code so that Colorado Springs voters can make informed choices at the ballot box and those who violate disclosure laws are subject to swift sanctions.”
The appeal notice is available on our website at www.coloradoforethics.org. Let me know if you’d like to speak with Luis today for further insight. Thanks.