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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Colorado High Court Tosses Campaign Rule

(CN) - A Colorado law restricting campaign contributions from government contractors is "so incomplete or riddled with omissions that it cannot be salvag(ed)," the state Supreme Court ruled.

Several plaintiffs, including teachers, firefighters, a children's hospital and the University of Denver, challenged Amendment 54, which prohibits holders of "single-source" government contracts and their families from contributing to political campaigns.

Voters passed Amendment 54 in November 2008, and its restrictions went into effect on the last day of that year.

"Many of Amendment 54's component parts are unconstitutionally vague, disproportional, overbroad, or otherwise infirm," Justice Nancy Rice wrote.

The restrictions, Rice ruled, quiet the political voice of unions that do business with the government, while other corporate voices come through loud and clear.

"Unions present little threat of pay-to-play corruption because employee volitionally agree to be (or not to be) represented by a specific union prior to negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, and in turn, the state must negotiate with that union regardless of its preferences," Rice wrote.

"Certainly, the threat of impropriety inherent in this process is insufficient to merit additional prohibitions on organized labor's speech, especially when other private entities are better structured to engage in illicit pay-to-play contracting," she added.

Rice also ruled that the amendment is overbroad in the extension of the prohibition for two years after the contract expiration, and the ban on contributions from the contractors' family members.

She affirmed the trial court's preliminary injunction and remanded the case for a final ruling consistent with the Colorado Supreme Court's opinion.

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