Gessler plans to change disclosure rules

A bill approved during this year’s legislative session changing next year’s primary elections from August to June has caused some campaign finance disclosure laws to be in conflict, the Secretary of State’s Office says.

As a result, Secretary of State Scott Gessler is planning to change some disclosure rules to prevent candidates from having to file more frequently than they do now, said Gessler spokesman Andrew Cole.

At issue are state laws requiring quarterly filing of campaign finance reports in off-election years, monthly reporting during election years and reporting every two weeks starting a month before an election.

Changing the primary date from the second Tuesday in August to the last Tuesday in June is in direct conflict with the latter requirement, which requires biweekly reports to start the July before the primary.

“Since we moved the election back to June, that would technically mean that starting this July, all candidates and campaign committees in Colorado would have to file every two weeks for basically a year,” Cole said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill that changes the primary date on Friday.

That’s why Gessler’s office is proposing a rule to allow candidates and committees to ignore that two-week filing deadline for the primary race, at least until the Legislature next year has a chance to fix the conflict.

The Legislature changed the primary date because of new federal rules that require military personnel stationed overseas to have more time to mail their absentee ballots in general elections. As a result, the state’s county clerks needed more time between the August primary and the November general election to handle those ballots.

“The intention is to go back to the Legislature and fix the (July) date,” Cole said. “If we go back to the way we’ve done it before, that (new) date would be in May, but that would have to be a legislative change.”

Candidates already are required to file monthly reports starting six months before a major election. As a result, the only thing that would change, if the new rule is adopted, is that there won’t be biweekly reports before the primary race, but there will be before the general election in November.

Candidates are required to start filing their monthly reports starting in May.

Some have already criticized the proposed new rule, which the office is to vote on June 14, as a move against public disclosure, but Cole says that’s not what’s happening.

“What we are doing is opting for a more reasonable system for people who want to participate in the system,” Cole said. “There’s this notion that all disclosure is good, but at some point it’s taken to the absurd. If you asked for disclosure every day, people couldn’t operate a campaign. If we make it an unreasonable system to operate in, good people aren’t going to participate.”


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