Group: Ballot measures will hurt government

The primary committee opposing three ballot questions that it says would shut down state and local governments filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office this week.

The committee, Protect Colorado’s Communities, said proponents behind the three measures that are to appear on the 2010 ballot violated laws in preparing and circulating petitions and failed to report campaign donations.

“You don’t get three initiatives on the ballot without spending thousands of dollars, or winking and nodding while someone else does it for you,” said Mark Grueskin, attorney for the committee. “The law is clear; the public has a right to know who is funding these antigovernment efforts.”

The measures would do such things as lower the state’s income tax rate, reduce vehicle-registration fees, limit state and local governments’ ability to borrow money and reverse a freeze on property-tax mill levies assessed by school districts.

Rich Coolidge, spokesman for Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, confirmed Thursday the office received the complaint and is looking into the matter. It could take up to a month to review it.

Coolidge said it is too early to say what, if any, penalty the proponents would face, but state law includes fines of up to $50 a day for each violation.

Proponents for the measures couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. They previously said they did not need to hire paid circulators and didn’t collect enough in donations to require reporting it.

Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a Golden-based, free-market, think tank, said the measures are designed to undo some Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights-related decisions by state lawmakers and recent rulings by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Critics of the measures — Proposition 101, Amendment 60 and Amendment 61 — said the proponents spent well over the $200 threshold that would require them to provide a list of donors and register their petition circulators with the state. By law, such circulators are required to receive special training on how to collect signatures.

Democratic leaders in the Legislature have long opposed the three measures, and now some leading Republicans, too, are calling for proponents to pull them from the ballot. Colorado law allows ballot proponents to withdraw their own measures.

“It may be well-intentioned, but it’s poorly conceived and a big distraction in a year where we’ll make a decision about the size of government,” said Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, referring to this year’s elections. “Do we elect Democrats in the House and the Senate and the governor’s mansion, or do we give the other team a chance?”


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