Coverage of legal-establishment campaign finance violations
In a “fair and balanced” media universe (even in a world in which the concept of “journalistic integrity” still had any meaning), the violation of Colorado campaign finance laws by a consortium of some of the largest and most powerful legal-establishment special-interest groups in the state (headed by the Colorado Bar Association, joined by the Colorado Judicial Institute, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System and the Colorado chapter of the League of Women Voters) with potential fines and penalties approaching a half-million dollars would be BIG news.
Instead, the majority of the Colorado press and media remain asleep at the wheel…
However, two media outlets have been paying attention to the issue, and have each written a fair summation of the complaint.
First out the gate (which has often been the case when it comes to coverage of Colorado legal issues) was Law Week Colorado. Their article, published online Friday (“Judicial-Ouster Group Files Complaint Against Colo. Bar Association, 3 Others“) notes that
[t]he four groups named in the complaint each contributed to the “Know Your Judge” campaign, which produced public service announcements urging voters not to skip judges up for retention on the ballot
and noted that the “Know Your Judge” campaign universally recommended a “retain” vote for the incumbent Colorado Supreme Court justices on the ballot.
The article goes on to note the irony in the fact that
Clear The Bench’s complaint relies in part on an administrative law judge’s ruling in a campaign finance complaint brought against it this year by Colorado Ethics Watch. The ruling found that committees that advocate for or against a judge must register as political committees.
Law Week’s article also includes the full text of the complaint, as filed (excepting attached Exhibits).
The first news organization to actually actively seek information on the story (you know, what used to be called investigative journalism and reporting) was Face The State online/radio news. Their article (“Complaint: Know Your Judge doesn’t know state campaign finance laws“) was also published Friday afternoon. Face The State’s article notes the extent to which the special-interest groups named in the complaint have funded the “Know Your Judge” campaign, as well as the potential fines and penalties to which they may be subjected once the complaint is resolved in court:
According to an article in Law Week, the Colorado Bar Association paid $50,000 to produce the ad spots; the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System paid $25,000, and the Colorado Judicial Institute pitched in $10,000. The organizations, plus the League of Women Voters, are listed as sponsors on the Know Your Judge “About Us” page. [Ed. the amounts for IAALS and CJI were switched in the FTS article – it should be $10,000 by IAALS, and $25,000 by CJI – which, BTW, is a 501(c)3 organization prohibited from contributing to campaign activities].
Had Know Your Judge registered with the Secretary of State as a political committee–Arnold believes it should have–it would be limited to receiving contributions no greater than $525 per contributor per election cycle. If the complaint is upheld, a judge can levy fines of $50 per day for late reporting, plus two to five times the amount of contributions. The latter fine would equal between $170,000 and $425,000.
“Collectively and as individual organizations, they have all violated the law,” Arnold said. “They should have had to come together to file as a committee, or they could have done so individually.”
These legal-establishment special-interest groups are not above the law; the same rules should (and do!) apply to these groups, and their political activities, as apply to anyone else. They apparently consider themselves (along with the anti-constitutional incumbents they are working to keep in office) in a separate class – they seem to believe that laws only apply to the “commoners” (and not the legal-judicial “ruling class”).
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 minus Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, who’s resigning rather than face the voters ) 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.” Continue to support Clear The Bench Colorado with your comments (Sound Off!) and contributions – and vote “NO” on giving these unjust justices another 10-year term!