Colorado District Court Urged to Reject Another Challenge to Electioneering Communications Disclosure Provisions


Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, filed an amici brief in Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. Gessler,urging theU.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to reject a challenge to the Colorado Constitution’s “electioneering communications” disclosure provisions and deny a preliminary injunction.  The state law is materially identical to the federal “electioneering communications” disclosure statute, which has been repeatedly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, most recently in the 2010 Citizens United decision. 

Last month, in Independence Institute v. Gessler, the same Colorado district court dismissed a challenge to the same provisions of Colorado law as they applied to broadcast advertisements.  The Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, also filed an amici brief in that case in defense of the law.

“As this court recognized in Independence Institute, the U.S. Supreme Court has been unwavering in its support for this type of disclosure, and has consistently recognized that voters have a vital informational interest in knowing who is speaking about candidates shortly before an election,” said Megan P. McAllen, Campaign Legal Center Associate Counsel.  “Disclosure laws are under siege in lawsuits from coast to coast, but the courts have stood firm in upholding these laws against challenges from ‘dark money’ groups seeking to influence the electorate while remaining anonymous to the voting public.”

In June 2014, plaintiffs Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and Colorado Campaign for Life sent mailers to Colorado voters without making required disclosures.  The mailers referred to candidates for office in Colorado and were sent within 30 days of the primary election at a cost of more than $1,000.  They were thus “electioneering communications” subject to the modest disclosure requirements under Colorado law that plaintiffs now challenge as unconstitutionally overbroad.

The Colorado provisions closely track the federal “electioneering communications” disclosure law, which Congress enacted in 2002 to curb widespread evasion of earlier disclosure requirements that applied only to “express advocacy” ads.  The U.S. Supreme Court has twice upheld this law: first in a facial challenge in McConnell v. FEC (2003), and more recently in an as-applied challenge in Citizens United v. FEC (2010).

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

To read the brief filed today, click here.