Colorado’s Secretary of State on Tuesday dismissed a complaint that an independent spending committee improperly paid for radio ads urging people not to sign initiative petitions.
A legal analyst for Republican Secretary Wayne Williams deemed the commercials as informational and said they did not violate state campaign-finance law.
“It appears Better Jobs Coalition was simply engaging in an informational campaign intended to educate the general public about petition circulation activity,” wrote Melissa Polk, a campaign finance legal analyst for the office. “This type of activity is not covered under Colorado’s campaign finance law.”
Colorado Common Cause filed the complaint against Better Jobs Coalition earlier this month, saying that independent expenditure committees are created to spend money on candidates, not ballot issues.
Caroline Fry, outreach director for Colorado Common Cause, said she hadn’t had a chance to review the decision.
A spokesman for Better Jobs Coalition said the group’s nonprofit arm funded the ads that ran on Colorado Springs radio stations. One of them featured an El Paso County Commissioner telling voters that signing petitions could result in identity theft. The July ads didn’t mention any specific initiatives that were gathering signatures at the time.
Frank McNulty, a political consultant working with Better Jobs Coalition, commended the conclusion. “The Secretary of State’s office hit the nail on the head,” he said. “It was a frivolous complaint from the outset.”