Buescher to delve into donor laws on Colorado level

DENVER — Secretary of State Bernie Buescher wants to save the state — and the Republican Party — some time and money.

That’s why he’s calling campaign finance legal experts from all sides into his office today to find out exactly what the U.S. Supreme Court did in its decision that threw out many of the nation’s donor laws.

The Democrat said it’s clear his office and the General Assembly have to do something to adjust Colorado law to match the decision, so a promise from the Colorado Republican Party to challenge the state’s campaign finance laws that mirror the now-unconstitutional federal ones shouldn’t be necessary.

“What we need to know is which portions of the state’s Constitution are now no longer enforceable, and what are the four corners of the areas in which the Legislature can act,” Buescher said.

That became necessary Thursday after the high court in a 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission threw out laws that limited corporate and union speech as a violation of free-speech rights.

Specifically, the decision affected rules that banned independent expenditures on advertising for or against specific candidates.

Colorado GOP officials said they would sue the state to similarly toss out Colorado’s laws, which like 23 other states are virtually identical to the federal rules.

But GOP chairman Dick Wadhams said the party would hold off on its lawsuit if Buescher’s idea pans out.

“I wanted to have more time to learn more about the decision, how it relates directly to Colorado and what our options are,” he said.

“So, I would commend Secretary of State Buescher for having a meeting like that. It would be constructive. I’m willing to think through the ramifications, so this would be a prudent course for Buescher.”

Wadhams said his personal preference is to see all recent campaign finance laws passed in the state and in Washington go away, such as contribution limits directly to candidates, but he isn’t planning on challenging Colorado’s laws on that score.

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