Midweek Update – covering Clear The Bench Colorado’s victory over “Colorado Ethics Watch” (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do), Colorado Supreme Court elections and vacancy replacements
After Sunday’s Denver Post editorial (“Unintended consequences in judicial push“) missed the point of Clear The Bench Colorado (hint: it’s not about selecting replacements for the incumbent justices; it’s about holding the current justices accountable to the Colorado Constitution, the rule of law, and the citizens whose rights they are sworn to uphold) and ended up by spinning an implausible scenario of justices “retiring” after being voted out this November (the ol’ “you can’t fire me; I quit! routine), the remainder of the week brought out more serious news coverage related to Clear The Bench Colorado and the Colorado Supreme Court. (Unfortunately, none of the actual news appears to have been covered by the Denver Post – although they did publish the important stories such as the “supporting roles” of Romanoff’s family on his campaign, Bennet’s time spent with his daughters, and the theft of “more than 100 gnomes” in Arvada. Yep, hard-hitting investigative reporting and “serious” journalism…)
Meanwhile, other more topically substantive publications have been following the unraveling of the “Colorado Ethics Watch” (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) “frivolous, groundless, and vexatious” campaign finance “complaint” against Clear The Bench Colorado.
This week’s coverage of the story opened up with Monday’s radio news segment on 1310AM KFKA with Face The State managing editor Brad Jones discussing how “liberal litigation shop Colorado Ethics Watch is ordered to pay up for a misfired lawsuit.” (The “Colorado Ethics Watch” – CEW, pronounced “sue”, it’s what they do – segment begins at 10:45 on this audio clip). A few highlights:
“Colorado Ethics Watch in particular exists solely to tie up conservative causes in court… and that is an established campaign tool. Mark Grueskin, a major Democratic attorney who takes up a lot of these kinds of cases… basically admits as such. Litigation is now an expense, both in prosecution and defense, for campaigns…
The part that’s really important to note here is that… in Colorado, an attorney being forced to pay the opposing counsel’s attorneys fees is a very rare event indeed, because under Colorado’s judicial rules, when a lawyer signs that complaint, they are certifying that it is a legitimate question of law… and in this case, the judge said that ‘you have no business filing this complaint because you knew that the facts were not with you and that you had no chance of prevailing, but you pursued it anyway…
On Tuesday, Law Week Colorado picked up the story of last week’s ruling by Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer which not only dismissed CEW’s frivolous, groundless, and vexatious “complaint” against Clear The Bench Colorado but also took the rare step of directing CEW to pay thousands in legal fees because the “complaint” was so completely without merit. Law Week’s article (“Denver Administrative Judge Upbraids Colorado Ethics Watch“) noted that the judge soundly rebuked “Colorado Ethics Watch” (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) in his written order (published Monday), which the article also included in full. Some excerpts:
An administrative law judge has chastised a Denver-based ethics-watchdog group, calling a recent complaint filed by the group “substantially groundless and frivolous.” …
In the written order, Spencer said Ethics Watch “was in possession of facts putting it on notice that its claim was groundless but at no time did it seek to voluntarily dismiss its claim.”
Today, Law Week also covered Clear The Bench Colorado‘s request (filed Tuesday) for the Secretary of State’s office to provide legal clarity (and foreclose CEW’s plans for an endless cycle of additional “complaints” in their ongoing efforts to harass our grassroots movement) by issuing a definitive ruling which codifies the guidance issued by that office to Clear The Bench Colorado over a year ago:
Clear The Bench wants the Secretary of State to adopt a rule that says “a committee whose purpose is the support or opposition of the retention of a judicial seat shall register as an issue committee…” The group, which all state Supreme Court justices now up for retention, registered as an issue committee on the advice of the Secretary of State’s office.
Clear The Bench Colorado also received coverage in the context of the controversy currently surrounding the Colorado governor’s race. In addition to the Denver Post editor’s misguided assumptions about what constitutes a “good outcome” for CTBC’s efforts to hold our incumbent Colorado Supreme Court justices accountable to the law (hint: it’s not dependent on who’s governor), Clear The Bench Colorado received national exposure in the latest Human Events article by Colorado correspondent Ross Kaminsky (“GOP in Disarray in Colorado Governors Race“) which highlights the importance of the Colorado Supreme Court vote in upholding the principles of constitutional limits on government power, in Colorado and beyond:
In addition to the redistricting following the results of this year’s census, there is also a grassroots movement called Clear the Bench Colorado which aims to get Coloradoans to vote out three ultra-liberal state Supreme Court justices.
CTBC has put enough pressure on the judges that the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, a woman who has demonstrated no respect for the rule of law or the will of the people, announced her retirement a few weeks ago rather than face the voters. If CTBC is successful in causing the removal of one or more justices, the next governor will appoint the replacement(s). As important as Kagan or Sotomayor is on a national level, these vacancies will be at least as important within our state. [emphasis added]
Also today, the Face The State radio minute (broadcast on a variety of stations across Colorado) focused on the unethical practices of “Colorado Ethics Watch” (CEW, pronounced “sue” – it’s what they do) conducting legal harassment of opposing groups. The broadcast segment (entitled “Names can be deceiving”) called CEW to task for its habit of filing harassing “complaints” without legal merit:
Would a group called Colorado Ethics Watch ever do something out-of-bounds? Names can be deceiving…
Political attack ads are often funded by some group with a name like, “Coloradans for fluffy bunnies” or “The campaign for rainbows and sunshine.” Names can be deceiving. Take for example Colorado Ethics Watch, which purports to use the courts to pursue unethical political behavior. Well, so long as the target is a conservative, that is. Despite their intentions, the group has every right to access the legal system. But last week, CEW was slapped with attorneys fees for filing a complaint it knew had no merit. In Colorado, fees are assessed sparingly, and only in clearcut cases like this. It’s the second time in four years CEW has been rebuked like this. Legal harassment doesn’t sound very “ethical” to me.
Finally, in news breaking later in the day, Law Week also published the number of applicants (31 people applied) for the impending vacancy on the Colorado Supreme Court that will be created once the announced retirement of Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey (who announced her intent to retire rather than be held accountable by voters in the November elections) becomes effective (currently scheduled for November 30th). In keeping with current practice and tradition (but not as a statutory requirement), the Judicial Nominating Commission has NOT released the names of the would-be Colorado Supreme Court justices to the public. (Clear The Bench Colorado is pursuing that information in the interest of public accountability and government transparency – stay tuned for upcoming announcements).
We The People can (indeed, as citizens, we must) hold our public officials – both elected and appointed – accountable. Be a citizen, not a subject – get informed, then exercise your right to vote “NO” this November on the four (er, three remaining) ‘unjust justices’ of the Colorado Supreme Court’s “Mullarkey Majority”- (Justices Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, Nancy Rice – soon to be minus Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey) who need YOUR approval to continue taking away your constitutional rights: your right to vote on tax increases, your right to defend your home or business against seizure via eminent domain abuse, your right to be fairly represented in the legislature and Congress, and your right to enjoy the benefits of the rule of law, instead of suffering under rule by activist, agenda-driven “justices.” Support Clear The Bench Colorado with your comments (Sound Off!) and contributions – and exercise your right to vote “NO” on giving these unjust justices another 10-year term!