Colorado Appeals Court Urged to Overturn Contributions Ruling

Today, the Campaign Legal Center filed an amicus brief in Colorado Republican Party (“CRP”) v. Williams urging the Colorado Court of Appeals to overturn a Colorado District Court ruling that would allow CRP to accept unlimited contributions for a Super PAC it created and controls despite state limits on contributions to party committees.

“The Supreme Court has been very clear that party contribution limits are a valid means of preventing the corruption that can arise when large contributions are made to a political party, regardless of how the party uses that money,” said Megan P. McAllen, Campaign Legal Center Associate Counsel. “The Colorado Republican Party is trying to resurrect the soft-money abuses that plagued the federal campaign finance system for decades and that the Supreme Court found ultimately undermined the contribution limits and prohibitions.”

In 2003 in McConnell v. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on unlimited “soft money” contributions to political parties in a challenge to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA).  BCRA (commonly referred to as McCain-Feingold) closed a loophole created by the Federal Election Commission that allowed the national party committees to accept unlimited contributions to spend on certain activities.  In McConnell, the Court found that “the close relationship between federal officeholders and the national parties, as well as the means by which parties have traded on that relationship, that have made all large soft-money contributions to national parties suspect.”

In May 2014, the Colorado Republican Party filed suit against the state seeking an order declaring that its Super PAC, whose officers are appointed as often as annually by the state party chairman, was not subject to the regular limits on what could be contributed to a political party. The State’s Republican Secretary of State and Attorney General chose not to defend the application of the state limits. However, Colorado Ethics Watch joined the suit as an intervenor-defendant in order to argue that the state contribution limits prohibited CRP from accepting unlimited contributions to fund its Super PAC.  In September, the Colorado District Court ruled in favor of CRP, and Colorado Ethics Watch appealed that decision. The Campaign Legal Center filed in support of that appeal.

The Legal Center was assisted in the filing of the amici brief by Steven K. Imig and Teresa M. Abel of Lewis, Bess, Williams & Weese P.C.

To read the amici brief filed today by the Campaign Legal Center, click here.