Monday, March 21, 2011

Judge: City, not state, responsible for campaign finance

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Earlier this month, the Independent contacted Colorado Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro to ask him about some rather unusual campaign finance filings from Douglas Bruce and his Reform Team.

Toro not only thought the filings were fishy — he believed they were illegal. So he filed a complaint with the city. (We wrote all about it in "Doug Bruce: Groupthinking.")

Long story short, the city handled this complaint the same way it always handles all campaign finance complaints: The city forwarded it to the state. But guess what? The state threw the complaint right back to the city, saying the city, not the state, is responsible for prosecuting campaign finance cases.

That's a huge black eye for the city, which apparently has apparently been improperly ignoring complaints it should have been prosecuting, and instead forwarding those complaints to a court with no jurisdiction.

Ouch.

Read more about it on Thursday in the Indy.

This from Ethics Watch:

Judge Tells Colorado Springs to Enforce Own Election Laws
March 21, 2011
Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer rejected the City of Colorado Springs' attempt to refer to the Secretary of State a request filed by Ethics Watch for an investigation into whether Douglas Bruce and the Reform Team political committee (PAC) are violating Colorado Springs campaign finance laws. Judge Spencer ordered that the matter be "returned to the City for investigation and prosecution by the City Attorney" as required by the Colorado Springs Municipal Code.

Ethics Watch asked Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera and Vice Mayor Larry Small to direct the City Attorney to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute Douglas Bruce and the Reform Team PAC for violating Colorado Springs' campaign finance ordinance that requires committees operated by candidates to be registered as candidate committees and prohibits candidates from controlling political committees, which are supposed to operate independently. Instead, the City referred the matter to the Secretary of State's office, which in turn forwarded the matter to an administrative law judge according to standard procedures. Judge Spencer ruled on the complaint without a request from the respondents or Ethics Watch, observing that a court can examine its own jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case at any time. Because Colorado law expressly exempts home rule cities such as Colorado Springs, which have their own campaign finance laws, from Secretary of State jurisdiction, Judge Spencer ruled that the matter must be handled by the City of Colorado Springs.

Judge Spencer's order may be read under Related Documents on the right-hand side of the page.

ALJ_Order_of_Dismissal.pdf

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