The Independence Institute, where I work, is a think tank that speaks on a wide variety of issues. In 2005, we produced extensive research and public information about Colorado referenda C and D. (C was the largest tax increase in state history, and D was a debt increase. C passed and D was defeated.) The Institute was harassed by a complaint filed by one of the proponents, which automatically triggered an administrative hearing under Colorado’s very restrictive campaign finance laws. The Independence Institute ultimately prevailed, but only at the cost of a major distraction of time and money shortly before what turned out to be a close election. The Institute for Justice (based in D.C.) has filed a First and Fourteenth Amendment challenge to the Colorado law. The questions presented are:
1. Whether the First and Fourteenth Amendments forbid Colorado from imposing registration,
administrative, and continuous reporting regulations on policy organizations that comment on state ballot measures but do not have the support or opposition of such measures as their central major purpose.
2. Whether Colorado’s disclosure requirements for donors to ballot measure campaigns in which there is no chance of quid pro quo corruption violate the right to engage in anonymous speech and association.
The IJ argues that the Colorado Court of Appeals ruling regarding both items are contrary to the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedents. The cert. petition is here, and case background is here. The brief of the Colorado Secretary of State is due October 2.