Entrance Solution wins OK for last-minute ads | AspenTimes.com
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Entrance Solution wins OK for last-minute ads

ASPEN The end of the Denver Nuggets’ playoff hopes last week has led to the temporary easing of one of Aspen’s campaign finance regulations.As a result, Jeffrey Evans and his group, Entrance Solution will be allowed to pay for a last-minute advertisement in a local newspaper, which is against city law.The ad is expected to urge voters to reject ballot question No. 1, which would authorize the creation of bus-only lanes on the stretch of highway between Buttermilk and the roundabout at Aspen’s western edge.Evans, who has waged a multiyear campaign to make Highway 82 four lanes all the way into Aspen, filed court papers Monday in U.S. District Court in Denver challenging the constitutionality of an Aspen campaign finance law that states: “No person shall accept any contribution (including contributions to a candidate from the candidate himself or from members of his immediate family) later than seven (7) days prior to an election.”The law was passed in the late 1980s, according to City Clerk Kathryn Koch. It was designed so that the clerk can “publish in the newspaper every single contribution and expenditure [of candidates and issue committees], so the voting public knows who’s supporting whom.”Evans maintains that the law, if enforced, would violate his rights of free speech and “political association,” and all the result of an unexpected development on a basketball court.According to documents filed Monday with the federal court, Evans and Entrance Solution were planning to run ads on Comcast Cable television in the sixth and seventh games of the Nuggets/Spurs series, on May 3 and a date to be determined. But, the lawsuit declares, “unfortunately for Denver Nuggets fans, the Spurs eliminated the Nuggets from playoff contention” on May 2.Entrance Solution won’t get its $244 refund for the canceled ads, the suit continues, until after the election.To make up for the loss of the television advertising, Evans and an unidentified sympathizer want to turn over a total of $500 to Entrance Solution to pay for a newspaper ad. Evans wanted to lend the campaign $250 and donate another $150; the unidentified man would donate $100.But in doing so, Evans would violate the city’s law banning contributions, or the receipt of contributions, a week before the election. In fact, as treasurer of Entrance Solution, according to the lawsuit, Evans would be guilty of violating city election laws twice, once as a citizen and again as treasurer.So Evans filed suit, along with a request for an emergency order by a judge suspending the law in question until the lawsuit can be decided, based on the contention that the advertisement “contains a new message, reflecting new circumstances.”Those “new circumstances,” according to the suit, are that on May 4 the City Clerk’s Office approved petitions asking for an Entrance to Aspen election in November. In that election, voters will be asked to approve a four-lane highway coming all the way into Aspen, with HOV/bus lanes that operate just as the existing HOV lanes do between Basalt and Buttermilk – meaning restrictions in the mornings for Aspen-bound commuters and restrictions in the evenings for downvalley-bound commuters, but all lanes open to all traffic at other times.Evans and his group maintain that the prospect of the November election may cause voters to oppose Question No. 1 on Tuesday, in favor of what the suit terms “an alternative” next fall. Without the judge’s intervention, Evans and the group contend, their “ability to speak out on this issue during the election will be lost forever.”The city agreed on Monday that the election law in question will not apply to Entrance Solution or any other issue committee for this particular election, but that it still applies to candidates. The city also did not concede that the law is unconstitutional, and the case will proceed to trial.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com


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