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Colorado > Colorado Electoral Code > Fair Campaign Practices Act

1-45-108. Disclosure – definition

Overview of Statute

All candidate committees, political committees, issue committees, small donor committees, and political parties must abide by reporting requirements related to the amount received and donor’s identity. These include a requirement that entities report all contributions, regardless of amount, received from limited liability companies. Other guidance include the guidelines for compensating a candidate from a candidate committee fund, the deadlines for disclosing contribution records, the process for registering political entities, the overlap between registration with the FEC and Colorado secretary of state, as well as procedures related to issue groups dedicated to recall petitions and ballot initiatives.

Statute

(1) (a) (I) All candidate committees, political committees, issue committees, small donor committees, and political parties shall report to the appropriate officer their contributions received, including the name and address of each person who has contributed twenty dollars or more; expenditures made, and obligations entered into by the committee or party.

(II) In the case of contributions made to a candidate committee, political committee, issue committee, and political party, the disclosure required by this section shall also include the occupation and employer of each person who has made a contribution of one hundred dollars or more to such committee or party.

(III) Any person who expends one thousand dollars or more per calendar year on electioneering communications shall report to the secretary of state, in accordance with the disclosure required by this section, the amount expended on the communications and the name and address of any person that contributes more than two hundred fifty dollars per year to the person expending one thousand dollars or more on the communications. If the person making a contribution of more than two hundred fifty dollars is a natural person, the disclosure required by this section shall also include the person’s occupation and employer.

(IV) In the case of a limited liability company, the disclosure required by this section shall include, in addition to any other information required to be disclosed, each contribution from the limited liability company regardless of the dollar amount of the contribution.

(b) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2003, p. 2158, § 3, effective June 3, 2003.)

(c) A candidate committee in a special district election is not required to file reports under this section until the committee has received contributions or made expenditures exceeding two hundred dollars in the aggregate during the election cycle.

(d) For purposes of this section, a political party shall be treated as a separate entity at the state, county, district, and local levels.

(e) A candidate’s candidate committee may reimburse the candidate for expenditures the candidate has made on behalf of the candidate committee. Any such expenditures may be reimbursed at any time. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any expenditure reimbursed to the candidate by the candidate’s candidate committee within the election cycle during which the expenditure is made shall be treated only as an expenditure and not as a contribution to and an expenditure by the candidate’s candidate committee. Notwithstanding the date on which any such expenditure is reimbursed, the expenditure shall be reported at the time it is made in accordance with the requirements of this section.

(2) (a) (I) Except as provided in subsections (2.5), (2.7), and (6) of this section, such reports that are required to be filed with the secretary of state shall be filed:

(A) Quarterly in off-election years no later than the fifteenth calendar day following the end of the applicable quarter;

(B) On the first Monday in May and on each Monday every two weeks thereafter before the primary election;

(C) On the first day of each month beginning the sixth full month before the major election; except that no monthly report shall be required on the first day of the month in which the major election is held;

(D) On the first Monday in September and on each Monday every two weeks thereafter before the major election;

(E) Thirty days after the major election in election years; and

(F) Fourteen days before and thirty days after a special legislative election held in an off-election year.

(II) Such reports that are required to be filed with the municipal clerk and such reports required to be filed pursuant to section 1-45-109 (1) (a) (II) and (1) (c) shall be filed on the twenty-first day and on the Friday before and thirty days after the primary election, where applicable, and the major election in election years and annually in off-election years on the first day of the month in which the anniversary of the major election occurs.

(III) For purposes of this section, “election year” means every even numbered year for political parties and political committees and each year in which the particular candidate committee’s candidate, or issue committee’s issue, appears on the ballot; and “major election” means the election that decides an issue committee’s issue and the election that elects a person to the public office sought by the candidate committee’s candidate.

(IV) If the reporting day falls on a weekend or legal holiday, the report shall be filed by the close of the next business day.

(b) The reports required by this section shall also include the balance of funds at the beginning of the reporting period, the total of contributions received, the total of expenditures made during the reporting period, and the name and address of the financial institution used by the committee or party.

(c) All reports filed with the secretary of state pursuant to this subsection (2) shall be for the reporting periods established pursuant to rules promulgated by the secretary of state in accordance with article 4 of title 24, C.R.S.

(d) A candidate committee for a former officeholder or a person not elected to office that has no change in the balance of funds maintained by such committee, receives no contributions, makes no expenditures, and enters into no obligations during a reporting period shall not be required to file a report under this section for such period.

(e) The reporting period for all reports required to be filed with the municipal clerk and such reports required to be filed pursuant to section 1-45-109 (1) (a) (II)and (1) (c) shall close five calendar days prior to the effective date of filing.

(2.3) Repealed.

(2.5) In addition to any report required to be filed with the secretary of state or municipal clerk under this section, all candidate committees, political committees, issue committees, and political parties shall file a report with the secretary of state of any contribution of one thousand dollars or more at any time within thirty days preceding the date of the primary election or general election. This report shall be filed with the secretary of state no later than twenty-four hours after receipt of said contribution.

(2.7) Any candidate or candidate committee supporting any candidate, including an incumbent, in a recall election, shall file reports of contributions and expenditures with the appropriate officer fourteen and seven days before the recall election and thirty days after the recall election.

(3) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (3.5) of this section, all candidate committees, political committees, small donor committees, and political parties shall register with the appropriate officer before accepting or making any contributions. Registration shall include a statement listing:

(a) The organization’s full name, spelling out any acronyms used therein;

(b) A natural person authorized to act as a registered agent;

(c) A street address and telephone number for the principal place of operations;

(d) All affiliated candidates and committees;

(e) The purpose or nature of interest of the committee or party.

(f) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2010, (SB 10-041), ch. 151, p. 522, § 2, effective July 1, 2010.)

(3.3) Subject to the provisions of subsection (7) of this section, each issue committee shall register with the appropriate officer within ten calendar days of accepting or making contributions or expenditures in excess of two hundred dollars to support or oppose any ballot issue or ballot question or upon receipt of the notice from the secretary of state pursuant to section 1-40-113 (1) (b). If required to register under the requirements of this subsection (3.3), the registration of the issue committee shall include a statement containing the items listed in paragraphs (a) to (e) of subsection (3) of this section in connection with other committees and a political party.

(3.5) Any political committee that has registered with the federal election commission may file with the appropriate officer a copy of the registration filed with the federal election commission and, insofar as such registration contains substantially the same information required by subsection (3) of this section, the political committee shall be considered to have registered with the appropriate officer for purposes of subsection (3) of this section and, therefore, shall be authorized to accept or make contributions as permitted by law. Any political committee that satisfies the requirements of this subsection (3.5) shall be subject to all other legal requirements pertaining to contributions and disclosure that are applicable to political committees.

(4) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2010, (SB 10-041), ch. 151, p. 522, § 2, effective July 1, 2010.)

(5) The registration and reporting requirements of this section shall not apply to that part of the organizational structure of a political party which is responsible for only the day-to-day operations of such political party at the national level if copies of the reports required to be filed with the Federal Election Commission pursuant to the “Federal Election Commission Act of 1971”, as amended, are filed with the secretary of state and include the information required by this section.

(6) Any issue committee whose purpose is the recall of any elected official shall register with the appropriate officer within ten calendar days of accepting or making contributions or expenditures in excess of two hundred dollars to support or oppose the recall. Reports of contributions and expenditures shall be filed with the appropriate officer within fifteen days of the filing of the committee registration and every thirty days thereafter until the date of the recall election has been established and then fourteen days and seven days before the recall election and thirty days following the recall election.

(7) (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, and subject to the provisions of paragraph (b) of this subsection (7), a matter shall be considered to be a ballot issue or ballot question for the purpose of determining whether an issue committee has been formally established, thereby necessitating compliance with any disclosure and reporting requirements of this article and article XXVIII of the state constitution, at the earliest of the following:

(I) A title for the matter has been designated and fixed in accordance with law;

(II) The matter has been referred to the voters by the general assembly or the governing body of any political subdivision of the state with authorization to refer matters to the voters;

(III) In the case of a citizen referendum petition, the matter has been submitted for format approval in accordance with law;

(IV) A petition concerning the matter has been circulated and signed by at least one person; except that, where a matter becomes a ballot issue or ballot question upon such signing, any person opposing the matter shall not be considered to be an issue committee for purposes of this article and article XXVIII of the state constitution until one such person knows or has reason to know of the circulation; or

(V) A signed petition has been submitted to the appropriate officer in accordance with law.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this subsection (7), where a matter concerns a municipal annexation brought pursuant to article 12 of title 31, C.R.S., the matter shall not be considered to be a ballot issue or ballot question for the purpose of determining whether an issue committee has been formally established, thereby necessitating compliance with any disclosure and reporting requirements of this article and article XXVIII of the state constitution, unless and until the first notice of the annexation election has been published in accordance with the requirements of section 31-12-112 (6), C.R.S.

 

 

Source: Initiated 96: Entire article R&RE, effective upon proclamation of the Governor, January 15, 1997.L. 98: (1), (2)(a), and IP(3) amended, p. 223, § 2, effective April 10; (2)(c) added, p. 951, § 3, effective May 27.L. 99: (2)(a) amended and (2)(c)(V) and (2)(c)(VI) added, p. 1391, § § 14, 15, effective June 4.L. 2000: (2)(a) and (2)(c) amended and (2)(d), (2.3), and (2.5) added, pp. 124, 125, § § 5, 6, effective March 15; (1) amended, p. 1725, § 2, effective June 1; (2)(e) added, p. 791, § 2, effective August 2.L. 2001: (3)(f) added, p. 808, § 1, effective August 8; (2.3) amended, p. 1111, § 2, effective September 1.L. 2002: IP(2)(a)(I) and (6) amended and (2.7) added, p. 198, § 2, effective April 3; (1)(c) added, p. 1640, § 33, effective June 7.L. 2003: (1)(a), (1)(b), (2.3)(a), (2.5), IP(3), and (3)(f) amended and (1)(d) added, p. 2158, § 3, effective June 3.L. 2004: (1)(e) and (3.5) added and IP(3) amended, p. 864, § § 2, 3, effective May 21.L. 2007: IP(2)(a)(I) amended, p. 2017, § 2, effective June 1; IP(2)(a)(I) and (2)(a)(I)(B) amended, p. 1299, § 2, effective July 1.L. 2008: (1)(a)(IV) added, p. 441, § 2, effective April 14.L. 2009: (2)(a)(II), (2)(e), and (2.5) amended, (HB 09-1357), ch. 361, p. 1871, § 1, effective July 1; IP(3) and (3)(f) amended and (3.3) and (7) added, (HB 09-1153), ch. 174, p. 774, § 2, effective September 1.L. 2010: (1)(a)(III), (3)(f), (3.3), (4), and (6) amended, (SB 10-041), ch. 151, p. 522, § 2, effective July 1; (3.3) amended, (HB 10-1370), ch. 270, p. 1241, § 5, effective January 1, 2011.L. 2012: (2)(a)(I)(B) amended, (SB 12-014), ch. 1, p. 1, § 1, effective January 30; (1)(c) amended, (HB 12-1269), ch. 83, p. 274, § 1, effective August 8.

 

Editor’s note: (1) This section is similar to former § 1-45-108 as it existed prior to 1996.

(2) The numbering of this section originated in an initiated measure. As a result of an amendment to this section by House Bill 00-1194, subsections (2)(a)(I) and (2)(a)(II) as they existed prior to March 15, 2000, were renumbered on revision as (2)(a)(III) and (2)(a)(IV).

(3) Subsection (2.3)(b) provided for the repeal of subsection (2.3), effective January 1, 2007. (See L. 2001, p. 1111.)

(4) Amendments to subsection (3.3) by Senate Bill 10-041 and House Bill 10-1370 were harmonized.

Cross references: For the legislative declaration in the 2010 act amending subsection (3.3), see section 1 of chapter 270, Session Laws of Colorado 2010.
 
ANNOTATION

Law reviews. For article, “Campaign Finance and 527 Organizations: Keeping Big Money in Politics”, see 34 Colo. Law. 71 (July 2005).

Act is neither unconstitutionally vague nor unconstitutionally overbroad. As to candidate’s vagueness argument, court finds that act provides sufficient notice to persons of ordinary intelligence that expenditures, regardless of the source of the funds, must be reported. As to candidate’s arguments that act is unconstitutionally overbroad and inhibits basic first amendment freedoms, court finds that, construed to preserve its constitutionality, the act does not inhibit a candidate’s expenditures of personal funds so long as those expenditures are made through a candidate committee and reported in accordance with this section. Hlavec v. Davidson, 64 P.3d 881 (Colo. App. 2002).

The disclosure requirements contained in this section do not violate the right to engage in anonymous speech and association. Disclosure of the contributors to ballot measures may constitutionally be required under the standards specified in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976). Challengers to disclosure requirements must show a reasonable probability that the compelled disclosure of contributors’ names would subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either government officials or private parties. Independence Inst. v. Coffman, 209 P.3d 1130 (Colo. App. 2008), cert. denied, 558 U.S. 1024, 130 S. Ct. 625, 175 L. Ed. 2d 479 (2009).

Registration and disclosure requirements are unconstitutional as applied to ballot-initiative committee. There is virtually no proper governmental interest in imposing disclosure requirements on ballot-initiative committees that raise and expend minimal money, and limited interest cannot justify the burden that disclosure requirements impose on such a committee. Sampson v. Buescher, 625 F.3d 1247 (10th Cir. 2010).

The financial burden of state regulation on ballot initiative committee member’s freedom of association approaches or exceeds the value of their financial contributions to their political effort; and the governmental interest in imposing those regulations is minimal, if not nonexistent, in light of the small size of the contributions. Therefore it is unconstitutional to impose that burden on the committee members. Sampson v. Buescher, 625 F.3d 1247 (10th Cir. 2010).

The $200 contribution and expenditure threshold for issue committees under section 2(10)(a)(II) of article XXVIII and the retrospective reporting requirements for issue committees under subsection (1)(a)(I) of this section were not facially invalidated by the tenth circuit’s holding in Sampson v. Buescher, 625 F.3d 1247 (10th Cir. 2010). The secretary of state promulgated 8 Colo. Code Regs. 1505-6, § 4.1 (rule 4.1), in response to Sampson. Because rule 4.1’s $5,000 threshold and its retrospective reporting exemption clearly conflict with the still-valid constitutional and statutory provisions, rule 4.1 is unlawful and set aside. The secretary of state exceeded his authority in promulgating the rule. Gessler v. CO Common Cause & Ethics Watch, 2014 CO 44, 327 P.3d 232.

Although in promulgating rule 4.27 (later codified as rule 4.1), the secretary was attempting to clarify the registration and reporting requirements in light of Sampson, Sampson did not facially invalidate any provision of the campaign finance law, and, to the extent Sampson impacts the future application of campaign finance laws on issue committees in a similar factual context, rule 4.27 exceeds the scope of Sampson. Colo. Common Cause v. Gessler, 2012 COA 147, — P.3d –, aff’d, 2014 CO 44, 327 P.3d 232.

Under subsection (1)(a), candidate committees must disclose all expenditures and obligations, even if no contributions are received. Thus, if a candidate runs without a separate committee and finances the campaign from personal funds, the candidate is a candidate committee and must disclose expenditures and obligations as required by subsection (1)(a). Nothing in subsection (1)(a) indicates that expenditures must be reported only if drawn on outside contributions. Hlavec v. Davidson, 64 P.3d 881 (Colo. App. 2002).

Here, both candidate and the candidate committee made expenditures under the authority of the candidate. Thus, both the candidate and the committee were candidate committees or the candidate was acting through the formed committee. In either instance, the expenditures were subject to the disclosure requirements of subsection (1)(a). Hlavec v. Davidson, 64 P.3d 881 (Colo. App. 2002).

Candidate’s disclosure report not required to report unexpended campaign funds at the end of an election cycle as contributions from a political party. It is necessary only that a candidate committee report the amount of unexpended campaign funds on hand at the end of an election cycle. To report money already on hand as a fictional, new contribution from an unidentified political party would artificially inflate the amount of funds reportedly available to a candidate committee and would be confusing to those who read the report. Williams v. Teck, 113 P.3d 1255 (Colo. App. 2005).

Order by administrative law judge (ALJ) assessing penalty against nonprofit association engaging in political advocacy based upon determination by ALJ that association was a political committee is vacated and case remanded. Under controlling precedent, regulation under campaign finance laws should be tied to groups controlled by candidates or which have a “major purpose” of electing candidates. Here, record does not permit a determination of whether major purpose test satisfied as to association. On remand, ALJ instructed to determine whether association’s “major purpose” in 2004 was the nomination or election of candidates. Alliance for Colorado’s Families v. Gilbert, 172 P.3d 964 (Colo. App. 2007).

ALJ had authority to impose appropriate sanction under § 9(2)(a) of article XXVIII of the state constitution for violation of this section. The appropriate officer may either directly sanction the offending party under § 10(2)(b) of article XXVIII or initiate a complaint under § 9(2)(a). Patterson Recall Comm., Inc. v. Patterson, 209 P.3d 1210 (Colo. App. 2009).

Nowhere in this article or in rules promulgated by secretary of state is the filing requirement conditioned upon posting by or receiving electronic transmissions from the county clerk and recorder. Instead, the requirement to disclose and file reports is unconditionally imposed until a committee is terminated. Patterson Recall Comm., Inc. v. Patterson, 209 P.3d 1210 (Colo. App. 2009).

Section 9(2)(a) of article XXVIII of the state constitution authorizes ALJ to render a decision upon a complaint and, if ALJ concludes that a violation has occurred, “such decision shall include any appropriate order, sanction, or relief authorized by this article”. Nothing in the article, however, recognizes or grants a defense of “good faith”, and an ALJ is not at liberty to engraft any limitation or restriction not specifically provided. Patterson Recall Comm., Inc. v. Patterson, 209 P.3d 1210 (Colo. App. 2009).

While § 9(2)(a) of article XXVIII of the state constitution requires ALJ to include in the decision an appropriate order, sanction, or relief as authorized by the terms of this article, ALJ has discretion to impose no section at all if he or she reasonably concludes one would not be appropriate. Patterson Recall Comm., Inc. v. Patterson, 209 P.3d 1210 (Colo. App. 2009).

Adoption of 8 Colo. Code Regs, 1505-6, § 9.3 of the Colorado secretary of state’s rules concerning campaign and political finance requiring the name of the candidate unambiguously referred to in the electioneering communication to be included in the electioneering report was within the rulemaking authority of the secretary of state under § 9(1)(b) of article XXVIII of the state constitution and § § 1-1-107 (2)(a) and 1-45-111.5 (1). Colo. Citizens for Ethics in Gov’t v. Comm. for the Am. Dream, 187 P.3d 1207 (Colo. App. 2008).

District court properly invalidated secretary of state’s proposed rule, 8 Colo. Code Regs. 1505-6, § 18.1.8, that attempted to fill a gap in subsection (2.5) of this section by creating a uniform way to assess “good cause” and levy fines. The rule merely eliminates penalties after a contribution is first disclosed and after election day regardless of a showing of good cause. The rule applies equally to those who intentionally avoid reporting obligations as well as those who do not report due to inadvertence. So, because the rule does not fill a gap, but applies irrespective of whether there is actually good cause to reduce or eliminate penalties, the rule is manifestly contrary to art. XXVIII, § 10(2)(c), of the state constitution, which requires the secretary to set aside or reduce a penalty only upon a showing of good cause. Colo. Ethics Watch v. Gessler, 2013 COA 172M, — P.3d –.

Annotation: June 13, 2016 5:35 pm

According to the rules, “Electronic Transmission” means:
(a) For the purpose of sending an unvoted ballot by fax, email, or online delivery to:
(1) A military or overseas elector under Article 8.3 of Title 1, C.R.S.
(2) An elector requesting a replacement for an emergency under section 1-7.5-115, C.R.S.
(3) An affected elector requesting a ballot because of a disaster emergency.
(b)For the purpose of returning a voted ballot to the county clerk fax or email.

Annotation: June 10, 2016 5:17 pm

The rules define “ballot measure” as a ballot issue or ballot question as defined in sections 1-1-104(2.3) and (2.7), C.R.S.

Annotation: April 22, 2016 4:21 pm

In Independence Institute v. Williams, USCA No. 14-1463, the 10th Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the Secretary. The Secretary determined that II’s advertisement concerning the health care exchange would require disclosure of funders, which II believed was a First Amendment violation.
The 10th Circuit concluded that Colorado’s disclosure requirements meet the
exacting scrutiny standard articulated by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010). This provision serves the
legitimate interest of informing the public about the financing of ads that mention
political candidates in the final weeks of a campaign, and its scope is sufficiently
tailored to require disclosure only of funds earmarked for the financing of such
ads.

Annotation: 4:03 pm

In Sampson v. Buescher Nos. 08-1389, 08-1415, the 10th Circuit Court of the Appeals found that requiring a small, informal, citizen-group to disclose all expenditures for or against a ballot issue once they met or exceeded $200 was too burdensome on the group’s First Amendment rights of speech and assembly. This decision led to a number of follow-up cases to determine what defines a small, citizen-group.

Annotation: 4:05 pm

Coalition for Secular Government v. Williams, USCA No. 14-1469. District Court ruled and the 10th Circuit affirmed that, as applied, the Colorado Constitution and this provision did not subject an issue commission to disclosure laws because the threshold for disclosure was too low. This case is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Definition [Circulated]

Presented to an elector for the collection of a signature and other information required by this article. C.R.S. § 1-12-100.5.

Definition [Expenditure]

Any purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money by any person for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or supporting or opposing a ballot issue or ballot question. An expenditure is made when the actual spending occurs or when there is a contractual agreement requiring such spending and the amount is determined.

(b) “Expenditure” does not include:

(I) Any news articles, editorial endorsements, opinion or commentary writings, or letters to the editor printed in a newspaper, magazine or other periodical not owned or controlled by a candidate or political party;

(II) Any editorial endorsements or opinions aired by a broadcast facility not owned or controlled by a candidate or political party;

(III) Spending by persons, other than political parties, political committees and small donor committees, in the regular course and scope of their business or payments by a membership organization for any communication solely to members and their families;

(IV) Any transfer by a membership organization of a portion of a member’s dues to a small donor committee or political committee sponsored by such membership organization; or payments made by a corporation or labor organization for the costs of establishing, administering, or soliciting funds from its own employees or members for a political committee or small donor committee.

Section 2(8) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Election day]

The date either established by law or determined by the governing body of the political subdivision conducting the election, to be the final day on which all ballots are determined to be due, and the date from which all other dates in this article are set.C.R.S. § 1-7.5-103.

Definition [Contribution]

(a) (I) The payment, loan, pledge, gift, or advance of money, or guarantee of a loan, made to any candidate committee, issue committee, political committee, small donor committee, or political party;

(II) Any payment made to a third party for the benefit of any candidate committee, issue committee, political committee, small donor committee, or political party;

(III) The fair market value of any gift or loan of property made to any candidate committee, issue committee, political committee, small donor committee or political party;

(IV) Anything of value given, directly or indirectly, to a candidate for the purpose of promoting the candidate’s nomination, retention, recall, or election.

(b) “Contribution” does not include services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering their time on behalf of a candidate, candidate committee, political committee, small donor committee, issue committee, or political party; a transfer by a membership organization of a portion of a member’s dues to a small donor committee or political committee sponsored by such membership organization; or payments by a corporation or labor organization for the costs of establishing, administering, and soliciting funds from its own employees or members for a political committee or small donor committee.

Section 2(5) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

 

C.R.S. § 1-45-103 further adds:

(b) “Contribution” includes, with regard to a contribution for which the contributor receives compensation or consideration of less than equivalent value to such contribution, including, but not limited to, items of perishable or nonpermanent value, goods, supplies, services, or participation in a campaign-related event, an amount equal to the value in excess of such compensation or consideration as determined by the candidate committee.

(c) “Contribution” also includes:

(I) Any payment, loan, pledge, gift, advance of money, or guarantee of a loan made to any political organization;

(II) Any payment made to a third party on behalf of and with the knowledge of the political organization; or

(III) The fair market value of any gift or loan of property made to any political organization.

C.R.S. § 1-45-103.

Definition [Election Cycle]

Either:

(a) The period of time beginning thirty-one days following a general election for the particular office and ending thirty days following the next general election for that office;

(b) The period of time beginning thirty-one days following a general election for the particular office and ending thirty days following the special legislative election for that office; or

(c) The period of time beginning thirty-one days following the special legislative election for the particular office and ending thirty days following the next general election for that office.

Section 2(6) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Issue committee]

Any person, other than a natural person, or any group of two or more persons, including natural persons:

(I) That has a major purpose of supporting or opposing any ballot issue or ballot question; or

(II) That has accepted or made contributions or expenditures in excess of two hundred dollars to support or oppose any ballot issue or ballot question.

(b) “Issue committee” does not include political parties, political committees, small donor committees, or candidate committees as otherwise defined in this section.

(c) An issue committee shall be considered open and active until affirmatively closed by such committee or by action of the appropriate authority.

Section 2(10) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

 

(b) For purposes of section 2 (10) (a) (I) of article XXVIII of the state constitution, “major purpose” means support of or opposition to a ballot issue or ballot question that is reflected by:

(I) An organization’s specifically identified objectives in its organizational documents at the time it is established or as such documents are later amended; or

(II) An organization’s demonstrated pattern of conduct based upon its:

(A) Annual expenditures in support of or opposition to a ballot issue or ballot question; or

(B) Production or funding, or both, of written or broadcast communications, or both, in support of or opposition to a ballot issue or ballot question.

(c) The provisions of paragraph (b) of this subsection (12) are intended to clarify, based on the decision of the Colorado court of appeals in Independence Institute v. Coffman, 209 P.3d 1130 (Colo. App. 2008), cert. denied, — U.S. —, 130 S. Ct. 165, 175 L. Ed. 479 (2009), section 2 (10) (a) (I) of article XXVIII of the state constitution and not to make a substantive change to said section 2 (10) (a) (I).

C.R.S. § 1-45-103.

Definition [Political party]

Any group of registered electors who, by petition or assembly, nominate candidates for the official general election ballot. “Political party” includes affiliated party organizations at the state, county, and election district levels, and all such affiliates are considered to be a single entity for the purposes of this article, except as otherwise provided in section 7. Section 2(13) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Appropriate officer]

The individual with whom a candidate, candidate committee, political committee, small donor committee, or issue committee must file pursuant to section 1-45-109(1), C.R.S., or any successor section. Section 2(1) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Candidate committee]

A person, including the candidate, or persons with the common purpose of receiving contributions or making expenditures under the authority of a candidate. A contribution to a candidate shall be deemed a contribution to the candidate’s candidate committee. A candidate shall have only one candidate committee. A candidate committee shall be considered open and active until affirmatively closed by the candidate or by action of the secretary of state. Section 2(3) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Political committee]

Any person, other than a natural person, or any group of two or more persons, including natural persons that have accepted or made contributions or expenditures in excess of $200 to support or oppose the nomination or election of one or more candidates.

(b) “Political committee” does not include political parties, issue committees, or candidate committees as otherwise defined in this section.

(c) For the purposes of this article, the following are treated as a single political committee:

(I) All political committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by a single corporation or its subsidiaries;

(II) All political committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by a single labor organization; except that, any political committee established, financed, maintained, or controlled by a local unit of the labor organization which has the authority to make a decision independently of the state and national units as to which candidates to support or oppose shall be deemed separate from the political committee of the state and national unit;

(III) All political committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by the same political party;

(IV) All political committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by substantially the same group of persons.

Section 2(12) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Political subdivision]

A governing subdivision of the state, including counties, municipalities, school districts, and special districts. C.R.S. § 1-7.5-103.

Definition [Small donor committee]

Any political committee that has accepted contributions only from natural persons who each contributed no more than fifty dollars in the aggregate per year. For purposes of this section, dues transferred by a membership organization to a small donor committee sponsored by such organization shall be treated as pro-rata contributions from individual members.

(b) “Small donor committee” does not include political parties, political committees, issue committees, or candidate committees as otherwise defined in this section.

(c) For the purposes of this article, the following are treated as a single small donor committee:

(I) All small donor committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by a single corporation or its subsidiaries;

(II) All small donor committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by a single labor organization; except that, any small donor committee established, financed, maintained, or controlled by a local unit of the labor organization which has the authority to make a decision independently of the state and national units as to which candidates to support or oppose shall be deemed separate from the small donor committee of the state and national unit;

(III) All small donor committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by the same political party;

(IV) All small donor committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by substantially the same group of persons.

Section 2(14) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Electioneering communication]

Any communication broadcasted by television or radio, printed in a newspaper or on a billboard, directly mailed or delivered by hand to personal residences or otherwise distributed that:

(I) Unambiguously refers to any candidate; and

(II) Is broadcasted, printed, mailed, delivered, or distributed within thirty days before a primary election or sixty days before a general election; and

(III) Is broadcasted to, printed in a newspaper distributed to, mailed to, delivered by hand to, or otherwise distributed to an audience that includes members of the electorate for such public office.

(b) “Electioneering communication” does not include:

(I) Any news articles, editorial endorsements, opinion or commentary writings, or letters to the editor printed in a newspaper, magazine or other periodical not owned or controlled by a candidate or political party;

(II) Any editorial endorsements or opinions aired by a broadcast facility not owned or controlled by a candidate or political party;

(III) Any communication by persons made in the regular course and scope of their business or any communication made by a membership organization solely to members of such organization and their families;

(IV) Any communication that refers to any candidate only as part of the popular name of a bill or statute.

Section 2(7) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [State]

A state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.

Definition [Ballot]

(a) A federal write-in absentee ballot;

(b) A ballot specifically prepared or distributed for use by a covered voter in accordance with this article; or

(c) A ballot cast by a covered voter in accordance with this article.

(2) “Covered voter” means:

(a) A uniformed-service voter defined in paragraph (a) of subsection (9) of this section who is a resident of this state but who is absent from this state by reason of active duty and who otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements;

(b) An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, was last eligible to vote in this state and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements;

(c) An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, would have been last eligible to vote in this state had the voter then been of voting age and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements; or

(d) An overseas voter who was born outside the United States, is not described in paragraph (b) or (c) of this subsection (2), and, except for a state residency requirement, otherwise satisfies this state’s voter eligibility requirements if the last place where a parent, legal guardian, spouse, or civil union partner of the voter was, or under this article would have been, eligible to vote before leaving the United States is within this state.

C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.

Definition [Person]

Any natural person, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor organization, political party, or other organization or group of persons. Section 2(11) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Definition [Election]

Any election under the “Uniform Election Code of 1992” or the “Colorado Municipal Election Code of 1965”, article 10 of title 31, C.R.S. C.R.S. § 1-7.5-103.

Definition [Secretary]

The Colorado secretary of state. C.R.S. § 1-1.5-102.

Definition [Committee]

The committee of signers described in section 1-12-108(2). C.R.S. § 1-12-100.5.

Definition [Candidate]

Any person who seeks nomination or election to any state or local public office that is to be voted on in this state at any primary election, general election, school district election, special district election, or municipal election. “Candidate” also includes a judge or justice of any court of record who seeks to be retained in office pursuant to the provisions of section 25 of article VI. A person is a candidate for election if the person has publicly announced an intention to seek election to public office or retention of a judicial office and thereafter has received a contribution or made an expenditure in support of the candidacy. A person remains a candidate for purposes of this article so long as the candidate maintains a registered candidate committee. A person who maintains a candidate committee after an election cycle, but who has not publicly announced an intention to seek election to public office in the next or any subsequent election cycle, is a candidate for purposes of this article. Section 2(2) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

Cases

Colorado Cases

Out-of-State Cases

Case State: colorado

Case Name: Cerbo v. Protect Colo. Jobs, Inc.

Citation: 240 P.3d 495 (Colo. App. 2010)

Year: 2010

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/fee44ba33354ae3ae8728365be99549c

Case Summary: Holding that an organization has a “major purpose” of supporting a ballot issue (for purposes of establishing that it is an issue committee) if such ballot issue support constitutes a considerable or principal portion of organization's total activities; nonprofit organization here had a major purpose of supporting a right-to-work ballot initiative; and phrase “a major purpose” is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad on its face.

Case State: colorado

Case Name: Independence Inst. v. Coffman

Citation: 209 P.3d 1130 (Colo. App. 2008)

Year: 2008

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/fba6df6ee0d6ce59259cb6febab8a207

Case Summary: Holding that the phrase “a major purpose” in constitutional campaign and political finance provision defining “issue committee” was not unconstitutionally vague on its face; definition of “issue committee” was not unconstitutionally overbroad on its face; organization had standing to assert that registration and disclosure requirements unconstitutionally burdened its First Amendment rights; organization had impermissibly changed its unconstitutional burden claim on appeal from a facial to an as-applied challenge; and required disclosure of contributions did not violate organization's right to engage in anonymous speech and association.

Case State: colorado

Case Name: Johnson v. Griffin

Citation: 240 P.3d 404 (Colo. App. 2009)

Year: 2009

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/0c000549706f8574b24efe3e0457f1b3

Case Summary: Holding that section of constitutional article governing sanctions for violation of disclosure requirements, which provided for a penalty of $50 per day for each day that information was not filed as required, determined the amount to fine county commissioner candidate for failure to disclose contributor employment information, where candidate was not otherwise required to return contributions.

Case State: colorado

Case Name: Hlavec v. Davidson

Citation: 64 P.3d 881 (Colo. App. 2002)

Year: 2002

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/a6abff1cdb7f1d0a9496f242a2313205

Case Summary: Holding that candidate had to report campaign expenditures made from his personal funds; the Fair Campaign Practices Act was not unconstitutional with its restriction on the amount a candidate can spend from personal funds on his own campaign; and the Act was not unconstitutionally vague as to who must report.

Case State: colorado

Case Name: Gessler v. Colo. Common Cause

Citation: 327 P.3d 232 (Colo. 2014)

Year: 2014

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/019ccc5947b88763d3312645e40cc19e

Case Summary: "We hold that the $200 contribution and expenditure threshold for issue committees under article XXVIII, section 2(10)(a)(II) of the Colorado Constitution and the retrospective reporting requirement for issue committees under section 1–45–108(1)(a)(I) of the Fair Campaign Practices Act were not facially invalidated by the Tenth Circuit's holding in Sampson. Because Rule 4.1 directly conflicts with these still-valid provisions, we hold Rule 4.1 unlawful and set it aside." ("Rule 4.1 increases the contribution and expenditure threshold that triggers issue committee status from $200 to $5000 and exempts retrospective reporting of contributions and expenditures once issue committee status is achieved.")

Case State: colorado

Case Name: Williams v. Teck

Citation: 113 P.3d 1255 (Colo. App. 2005)

Year: 2005

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/b837539b988847244293e956229bee83

Case Summary: Holding that candidate committee satisfied reporting requirements with regard to unexpended contributions; candidate committee could properly use unexpended contributions to pay senator's legal fees; and candidate committee was not required to terminate after senator was elected to his final term.

Case State: colorado

Case Name: Alliance for Colorado’s Families v. Gilbert

Citation: 172 P.3d 964 (Colo. App. 2007)

Year: 2007

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/f556291fcaf60ce2ee5067756ee36510

Case Summary: Holding that the definition of “political committee” in the State Constitution's Campaign Finance Amendment as applied would violate the nonprofit advocacy association's federal First Amendment freedom of speech and association rights, if the association's major purpose was not the election of candidates.

Case State: colorado

Case Name: Patterson Recall Comm., Inc. v. Patterson

Citation: 209 P.3d 1210 (Colo. App. 2009)

Year: 2009

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/6f831f67b9d1e7148a9af85bdb91e29f

Case Summary: Holding that Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) had the authority to sanction an issue committee for violating campaign finance laws; until it was terminated, issue committee was required to continue submitting contribution and expenditure reports after county clerk determined it had not gathered enough signatures to trigger a recall; an ALJ had the discretion to not impose a sanction for a violation of campaign laws; ALJ did not abuse her discretion by not sanctioning the committee for its failure to file reports; and committee's appeal was not frivolous.

Case State: colorado

Case Name: Colo. Citizens for Ethics in Gov’t v. Comm. for the Am. Dream

Citation: 187 P.3d 1207 (Colo. App. 2008)

Year: 2008

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/ff6d0c5bea644bbf487ae172deee07cb

Case Summary: Holding that Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) did not abuse his discretion by determining that documents evidencing political committee's production and airing of television commercials opposing reelection of political candidate had been sufficiently authenticated; advertisements were electioneering communications under the Campaign and Political Finance Amendment to the Colorado Constitution, rather than express advocacy; advertisements did not fall under “communication made in the regular course and scope of business” exception to electioneering communication; political committee, which failed to identify political candidate in a separate electioneering report, did not satisfy its reporting requirements through its contribution and expenditure reports; ALJ had jurisdiction to impose a penalty due to political committee's failure to comply with reporting requirements; voluntary dismissal by citizens group of its membership contribution claim was not a defense to political committee's claim for attorney fees; and ALJ did not abuse his discretion by finding that citizen group's membership contribution claim was groundless and awarding political committee attorney fees.

Case State: colorado

Case Name: Colo. Ethics Watch v. Gessler

Citation: 363 P.3d 727 (Colo. App. 2013)

Year: 2013

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/fa724d1482869c7093fbbf79770ce05c?query=Colo.%2[...]

Case Summary: Holding that the following rule is arbitrary and capricious, because the 30% threshold was unsupported by competent evidence in the record: "In order to determine whether an issue committee has a 'major purpose"' under the constitutional and statutory definitions, [determine whether] a demonstrated pattern of conduct is established where the organization's annual expenditures in support of or in opposition to ballot issues or ballot questions exceed 30% of the organization's total spending during the same period." Holding that Secretary of State did not have the authority to add a "major purpose" requirement, because the constitutional definition of "political committees" is clear and unambiguous. Holding that Secretary of State's rules improperly eliminated the statutory distinction between a political organization and a political committee.

Federal Cases

Case Name: Buckley v. Valeo

Citation: 424 U.S. 1 (1976)

Federal District Court:

Year: 1976

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/eb48c5774e89242d77a0b7c573033957

Case Summary: Holding that provisions in the Federal Election Campaign Act that limited expenditures by candidates on their own campaigns using personal funds violated the candidates' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

Case Name: Sampson v. Buescher

Citation: 625 F.3d 1247 (10th Cir. 2010)

Federal Circuit Court: 10th Circuit Court

Year: 2010

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/af112446215dab225736f8e205913c00

Case Summary: Holding that application of reporting and disclosure requirements to committee that had raised less than $1000 violated members' right to freedom of association.

Regulations & Guidance