UPDATE: FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, Republicans are plowing ahead with "Super-PAC" plans:
“Spending by outside special interest groups and labor unions has dominated Colorado politics for far too long, leading to two liberal governors and Democrat majorities in the legislature that have ignored the needs and priorities of Coloradans,” Call told FOX31 Denver Thursday night.
“The Secretary of State’s opinion allows the Colorado Republican Party to raise the funds needed to compete on an equal playing field with these outside groups and independently support our candidates and communicate the Republican Party’s message of individual freedom and opportunity to the citizens of our state.”
In fact, the opinion of Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert is nonbinding–more akin to Pontius Pilate washing his hands. But it gives Colorado Republicans the pretext they need to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. Original post follows.
From a press release sent out by Colorado Ethics Watch:
Denver – Today, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert denied a request by the Colorado Republican Party for a declaratory order that would allow it to establish an “independent expenditure committee” (colloquially called a “Super-PAC”) to raise unlimited and corporate money outside of the contribution limits for political parties set forth in the Colorado Constitution. The Colorado Democratic Party had asked that if the Republican Party were allowed to establish a Super-PAC, it should also be permitted to establish one. The decision today refused to authorize political parties to operate Super-PACs, but did suggest in a non-binding opinion that current Colorado law might allow such Super-PACs. [Pols emphasis]
In the separate but related advisory opinion, Deputy Secretary Staiert opined that political parties may establish Super-PACs, although she also noted that the Republican Party’s authority to hire and fire officers of the proposed “independent” committee could raise questions.
Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro issued the following statement: “Today, the Secretary of State’s office did the right thing, recognizing it has no authority to authorize something currently prohibited in the state Constitution. In fact, the idea that a Super-PAC can be established by a political party and yet remain ‘independent’ is absurd. Political parties are justifiably treated differently from other groups because they enjoy privileged access to the ballot. Parties can’t have it both ways and enjoy this privileged position while at the same time pretending to operate independently of the candidates they nominate for the ballot and the party itself. [Pols emphasis] We call on both the Democratic and Republican Parties to drop any plans to establish their own Super-PACs, and conduct fundraising in compliance with Colorado law.”
The idea that a political party could create its own PAC that would allow it to raise unlimited money without reporting contributors is pretty absurd, but the request itself is particularly strange. Is the Colorado Republican Party having so much trouble raising money from multiple sources that it needs something like this? The law already contains plenty of campaign finance loopholes, in the form of 527 committees, 501(c)4 groups, etc., so this would seem to be fairly unnecessary for candidates or issue committees.