Court Ruling Allows Political Parties in Colorado to Focus on a Handful of Billionaires, Not the Average Voter

Gavel resting on stack of money

Colorado Republican Party Can Form a Super PAC Under State Law 

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Colorado state law allows the state’s Republican Party to form a Super PAC (or “independent expenditure committee”) that raises and spends unlimited amounts of money from any source for ads supporting political candidates.

The court held that while state law does require the independent expenditure committees to remain completely independent of candidates, in this particular case, the Colorado Republican Party’s “independent” committee met those standards.

Campaign Legal Center filed an amicus brief in the case, Colorado Republican Party v. Colorado Ethics Watch. In our brief, we argued that political parties are inherently tied to candidates, and there is a long and demonstrated history of large soft-money donors exploiting those close ties to obtain political favors. Contribution limits are a needed check. Otherwise, we could see political parties shift their focus from engaging average voters to instead engaging a handful of billionaires. It doesn’t improve the parties, and it doesn’t improve democracy.

The court did recognize that if Colorado wanted to pass legislation limiting contributions to “independent” party committees, it was permitted to do so under the federal constitution. As Colorado’s law stands now, however, the Colorado Republican Party is permitted to form “independent” committees with no contribution limits. 

Megan is CLC's Director, Campaign Finance Litigation.