Secretary of State Williams takes over campaign finance enforcement

Wayne Williams, mountain backdrop, SOS photo

The office of Secretary of State Wayne Williams recreated in a week what’s been in the state constitution since 2002: A procedure to enforce Colorado’s campaign finance laws.

U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore ruled on June 12 that it’s unconstitutional for citizens to enforce the state’s campaign finance laws, which go automatically to an administrative law judge.

Tuesday, Williams said his office will assume the duty to enforce the law to ensure compliance with campaign finance rules balanced against free speech.

“The adoption of these rules ensures Colorado’s campaign finance laws are enforced while protecting each Coloradan’s ability to participate in political speech,” Williams said in a statement.

Under the new rules, the public can report suspected violation to the Secretary of State’s Office, which would investigate the evidence and notify those accused. Defendants would have 10 days to address the violation, then the Secretary of State’s Office would determine whether to proceed to a hearing officer.

Citizen enforcement was part of the Campaign Finance Initiative passed by Colorado voters 16 years ago. None of the other provisions were significantly affected by Moore’s ruling.

He said he was proud of his staff for their quick work, as well as the cooperative input from the major parties.

You can read the new rules by clicking here.

COMING IN THE JUNE 22 PRINT EDITION: More on this issue in Joey Bunch’s Insights column.

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