‘No’ on Amendment 65

Many Americans of all political persuasions are fed up with the massive amounts of money driving political campaigns and advertising these days.

But Amendment 65 on this year’s Colorado election ballot is a feel-good, nonsolution to the problem. It should be rejected.

Frustration over money in politics is understandable because each year the money spent — especially by third-party groups that have no direct connection to candidates — seems to rise exponentially. Those of us living in swing states such as Colorado this year have been treated to a blitzkrieg of presidential campaign advertising.

Many people blame the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United for the explosion of spending. But, truth be told, election spending was skyrocketing prior to that decision, even by third-party organizations. However, the decision did make it easier for large corporations, labor unions and other groups to contribute directly to political campaigns.

Although we believe the Supreme Court decided the case correctly, based on the legal issues and the broad protections of the First Amendment, we think it resulted in bad public policy. Some way of reining in the excessive amounts of spending by wealthy corporations and other organizations is needed. That will almost certainly require a constitutional amendment.

However, Amendment 65 will do nothing to accomplish that, even as it clutters the state Constitution with yet another unnecessary amendment that, of itself, misconstrues the Constitution.

The amendment’s aim is to get Colorado’s legislative representatives to support “a federal constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions and spending.”

A key provision of the text says: “The voters instruct the Colorado congressional delegation to propose and support, and the Colorado state Legislature to ratify” the sort of amendment to the U.S. Constitution mentioned above.

The only problem is, both Colorado and the United States are representative democracies. We cannot dictate how our representatives vote once they are elected.

As the Legislative Council’s Blue Book analysis of the Amendment puts it, “A state ballot measure cannot require elected representatives in Congress or the state Legislature to support or vote for certain laws and policies.”

What we can do is elect people who support our views and vow to work toward those goals.

Proponents of Amendment 65 say there is historic precedent for such voter instructions to lawmakers. They give lawmakers valuable information on how their constituents wish to be represented, they say.

But, with modern polling, focus groups, town hall meetings and more, lawmakers have ample opportunity to find out what their constituents want. There is no need to add unneeded baggage to our state Constitution to instruct our representatives.

Vote “No” on Amendment 65.


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