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colorado > Colorado Electoral Code > Fair Campaign Practices Act

1-45-109. Filing – where to file – timeliness

Overview of Statute

The entities listed in this section, including candidate committees for various government bodies and special district elections, must disclose contribution reports with the secretary of state. Municipal candidates and groups advocating for municipal-specific ballot issues, however, must file instead with the municipal clerk. These disclosures must be filed by the statutorily imposed due date. Failure to timely file the disclosure will result in a monetary penalty. The entity may appeal this penalty by showing good cause for the delay. Upon filing, these disclosures will be public record and the secretary of state must make electronic disclosures available on its website according to certain regulations. Should the disclosure lack any information, the secretary of state will notify the entity of the deficiency.

Statute

(1) For the purpose of meeting the filing and reporting requirements of this article:

(a) The following shall file with the secretary of state:

(I) Candidates for statewide office, the general assembly, district attorney, district court judge, or any office representing more than one county; the candidate committees for such candidates; political committees in support of or in opposition to such candidates; issue committees in support of or in opposition to an issue on the ballot in more than one county; small donor committees making contributions to such candidates; and persons expending one thousand dollars or more per calendar year on electioneering communications.

(II) Candidates in special district elections; the candidate committees of such candidates; political committees in support of or in opposition to such candidates; issue committees supporting or opposing a special district ballot issue; and small donor committees making contributions to such candidates.

(b) Candidates in municipal elections, their candidate committees, any political committee in support of or in opposition to such candidate, an issue committee supporting or opposing a municipal ballot issue, and small donor committees making contributions to such candidates shall file with the municipal clerk.

(c) All other candidates, candidate committees, issue committees, political committees, and small donor committees shall file with the secretary of state.

(2) (a) Reports required to be filed by this article are timely if received by the appropriate officer not later than the close of business on the due date. Reports may be filed by fax and are timely if received by the appropriate officer not later than the close of business on the due date only if an original of the report is received by the appropriate officer within seven days of the due date.

(b) A person upon whom a penalty has been imposed for failure to file a statement or other information required to be filed pursuant to section 5, 6, or 7 of article XXVIII of the state constitution or section 1-45-108, this section, or section 1-45-110 by the due date may appeal the penalty by filing a written appeal with the appropriate officer no later than thirty days after the date on which notification of the imposition of the penalty was mailed to the person’s last-known address. Upon receipt of an appeal pursuant to this paragraph (b), the appropriate officer shall set aside or reduce the penalty upon a showing of good cause.

(3) In addition to any other reporting requirements of this article, every incumbent in public office and every candidate elected to public office is subject to the reporting requirements of section 24-6-203, C.R.S.

(4) (a) All reports required to be filed by this article are public records and shall be open to inspection by the public during regular business hours. A copy of the report shall be kept by the appropriate officer and a copy shall be made available immediately in a file for public inspection.

(b) Any report that is deemed to be incomplete by the appropriate officer shall be accepted on a conditional basis and the committee or party treasurer shall be notified by mail as to any deficiencies found. If an electronic mail address is on file with the secretary of state, the secretary of state may also provide such notification by electronic mail. The committee or party treasurer shall have fifteen business days from the date such notice is sent, whether electronically or by United States mail, to file an addendum that cures the deficiencies.

(5) (a) The secretary of state shall operate and maintain a web site so as to allow any person who wishes to review reports filed with the secretary of state’s office pursuant to this article electronic read-only access to such reports free of charge.

(b) All reports required to be filed by this article that are electronically filed pursuant to subsection (6) of this section shall be made available immediately on the web site.

(c) The web site shall enable a user to produce summary reports based on search criteria that shall include, but not be limited to the reporting period, date, name of the person making a contribution or expenditure, candidate, and committee.

(d) At the earliest practicable date, the secretary of state shall develop and implement improvements to the web site’s design and structure to improve the public’s ability to navigate, search, browse, download, and analyze information. Such improvements shall include but need not be limited to:

(I) Enhanced searching and summary reporting, including additional search fields such as zip code, employer, and vendor, the ability to search across multiple committees and all filers, the ability to filter or limit searches, such as by election cycle or candidate, the inclusion of smart-search features such as “name sounds like” or “name contains”, and numerical totaling of amounts shown on search results;

(II) Features that facilitate the ability to download raw data and search results in one or more common formats to enable offline sorting and analyzing;

(III) Detailed, technical instructions for users;

(IV) Information to help users determine the scope of candidates’ and committees’ reports and campaign data available online, including explanations of which types of reports are available, the period covered by the online data, and which specific reports can be viewed for each campaign committee; and

(V) Resources that give the public comparative context when viewing campaign finance data, such as compilations of the total amounts of money raised and spent by individual candidates, lists of total amounts raised and spent by all statewide and legislative candidates, and compilations of fundraising and spending across candidates and election cycles.

(e) The secretary of state may promulgate rules necessary for the implementation of this subsection (5). Such rules shall be promulgated in accordance with article 4 of title 24, C.R.S.

(6) (a) The secretary of state shall establish, operate, and maintain a system that enables electronic filing using the internet of the reports required by this article to be filed with the secretary of state’s office. In accordance with the provisions of section 24-21-111 (1), C.R.S., the secretary may require any filing under this section to be made by electronic means as determined by the secretary. The rules for use of the electronic filing system shall be promulgated by the secretary in accordance with article 4 of title 24, C.R.S.

(b) Any person required to file with the secretary of state’s office shall use the electronic filing system described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (6) in order to meet the filing requirements of this article, if so required by the secretary in accordance with paragraph (a) of this subsection (6), except insofar as an alternate method of filing may be permitted by the secretary. Where a person uses such electronic filing system to meet the filing requirements of this article, the secretary of state shall acknowledge by electronic means the receipt of such filing.

(7) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2007, p. 1296, § 1, effective July 1, 2007.)

(8) (a) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2007, p. 1296, § 1, effective July 1, 2007.)

(b) (I) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2007, p. 1296, § 1, effective July 1, 2007.)

(II) and (III) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2009, (HB 09-1357), ch. 361, p. 1872, § 2, effective July 1, 2009.)

(c) (I) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2007, p. 1296, § 1, effective July 1, 2007.)

(II) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2009, (HB 09-1357), ch. 361, p. 1872, § 2, effective July 1, 2009.)

(9) Subsection (1) of this section shall not be construed to require the secretary of state to review reports electronically filed by persons beyond the duties specified in section 9 of article XXVIII of the state constitution.

(10) Repealed.

(11) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, during the period commencing May 25, 2010, and continuing through December 31, 2010, any report, statement, or other document required to be filed under section 1-45-107.5 that is to be filed electronically with the secretary of state’s office pursuant to this section may be filed manually or by means of a portable document format file acceptable to the secretary.

 

 

Source: Initiated 96: Entire article R&RE, effective upon proclamation of the Governor, January 15, 1997.L. 2000: (4), (5), and (6) amended, p. 125, § 7, effective March 15.L. 2001: (1) amended and (7), (8), and (9) added, p. 808, § 2, effective August 8; (6)(b) amended, p. 1111, § 3, effective September 1.L. 2002: (1) and (4)(a) amended, p. 1640, § 34, effective June 7.L. 2003: (1) and (7)(b) amended, p. 2159, § 4, effective June 3.L. 2005: (9) amended, p. 760, § 7, effective June 1.L. 2007: (5), (6), (7), (8), and (9) amended, p. 1296, § 1, effective July 1; (2) amended, p. 1983, § 37, effective August 3.L. 2009: (1), (5)(a), (6), (8)(b)(II), (8)(b)(III), (8)(c)(II), and (9) amended and (10) added, (HB 09-1357), ch. 361, p. 1872, § 2, effective July 1.L. 2010: (11) added, (SB 10-203), ch. 269, p. 1235, § 5, effective May 25; (4)(b) and (6) amended, (SB 10-041), ch. 151, p. 523, § 3, effective July 1.

 

Editor’s note: (1) This section is similar to former § 1-45-104 as it existed prior to 1996.

(2) Subsection (10)(e) provided for the repeal of subsection (10), effective January 1, 2011. (See L. 2009, p. 1872.)

Cross references: For the legislative declaration in the 2010 act adding subsection (11), see section 1 of chapter 269, Session Laws of Colorado 2010.
 
ANNOTATION

Administrative law judge (ALJ) correctly dismissed appellants’ agency appeal under § 10 (2)(b)(I) of article XXVIII of the state constitution for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. No question that appellants were required to file reports with secretary of state under subsection (1) of this section once appellant-candidate became a candidate for the general assembly. This does not mean, however, appellants acquired right to appeal penalty to secretary of state. Report at issue was filed not in connection with appellant-candidate’s candidacy for the general assembly but solely in connection with position as a county commissioner. Thus, ALJ correctly determined that, for purposes of report and penalty at issue, appellants were persons required to file appeal with county clerk and recorder, not with secretary of state. Sullivan v. Bucknam, 140 P.3d 330 (Colo. App. 2006).

Although appellants could have been required to file a report with the secretary of state in certain circumstances, those circumstances were not present in instant case. Appellants do not qualify as persons required to file with secretary of state under § 10 (2)(b)(I) of article XXVIII of the state constitution for purposes of underlying action merely because they could have been required to so file in other circumstances. Sullivan v. Bucknam, 140 P.3d 330 (Colo. App. 2006).

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).

ALJ had jurisdiction to impose penalty for violation of Rule 9.3 and did not err by imposing a $1,000 penalty on political committee. Section (2)(a) of article XXVIII of the state constitution grants an ALJ authority to conduct hearings on alleged violations of the article and the “Fair Campaign Practices Act” and to impose penalties if a violation has occurred. Rule 9.3 is necessary to implement former § 1-45-109 (5), and, under subsection (2)(a) of this section, sanctions can be imposed for violations of this section. Colo. Citizens for Ethics in Gov’t v. Comm. for the Am. Dream, 187 P.3d 1207 (Colo. App. 2008).

An organization that supports or opposes the retention of a judicial officer is a political committee because it supports or opposes the election of a candidate and because it is recognized as such by subsection (1)(a)(I). Organization accepted contributions and made expenditures of over $200 to oppose the retention of three justices of the Colorado supreme court. It is, therefore, a political committee. Organization cannot be both a political committee and issue committee because the two are defined under subsections (10) and (12) of art. XXVIII of the state constitution to be mutually exclusive. Colo. Ethics Watch v. Clear the Bench, 2012 COA 42, 277 P.3d 931.

Annotation: June 13, 2016 5:37 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.

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 [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 [United States]

Used in the territorial sense, means the several states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. C.R.S. § 1-8.3-102.

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 [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 [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 [Spending]

Funds expended influencing or attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any individual to any state or local public office in the state and includes, without limitation, any purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value by any political organization, a contract, promise, or agreement to expend funds made or entered into by any political organization, or any electioneering communication by any political organization. C.R.S. § 1-45-103.

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

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 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.

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