I am writing to let you know about the status of my campaign finance equity lawsuit. As you might recall, I filed that lawsuit during the 2010 election cycle in order to overturn Colorado law limiting independent candidates to one-half of the donation amount that individuals can give major party candidates. The issue is that unaffiliated candidate’s petition on to the ballot in Colorado so they don’t have primary elections. However, the Colorado legislature limited unaffiliated party candidates to half of the dollar amount that major party candidates can receive because they don’t have primary elections. My attorney is arguing that the Colorado statutes are in violation of both Federal law and the U.S. Constitution.
Two major factors are undermining the Colorado limits. One is the fact that federal law allows for independent candidates running for federal offices to set a date for a “primary” thereby allowing pre- and post- primary donations. (See McCain-Feingold Act, 2002, 11 C.F. R. S.100.2(c)(4) and (5)).
Secondly, the only accepted criteria that can be applied when evaluating the constitutionality of limiting campaign donations is whether or not the limitations will reduce potential corruption. (Davis v.Federal Election Commission, 554 U.S. 724, 2008). Limiting unaffiliated candidates to half of the donations that major party candidates can receive does not meet the corruption test, unless it can be credibly argued that it takes twice the amount of money to buy off a major party candidate than an unaffiliated candidate.
There are a number of states watching this situation closely. The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to rule on the case and will be hearing oral arguments on September 27, at 1:30 pm, in the Old Supreme Court Chambers in the State Capital Building. If you would like to get more information regarding the lawsuit please let me know and I can send you the brief my attorney, Bill Zimsky, prepared on my behalf.
Under current law in Colorado, an independent candidate running for state office needs two times the number of donors to raise the same dollar amount as a major party candidate. That is a significant barrier for unaffiliated candidates, even though 35 percent of the voters in our state are registered as unaffiliated!
Thank you for your interest!
Former state representative