State Supreme Court to rule on Common Sense Alliance |

State Supreme Court to rule on Common Sense Alliance

Sarah S. Chung

Three questions will be posed to Colorado’s highest court regardingCommon Sense Alliance’s role in Pitkin County’s last election.They address whether or not Common Sense Alliance acted as anissues committee in its campaign regarding three rail-relatedquestions on the November ballot. Both Jeffrey Evans of Common Sense Alliance and County AttorneyJohn Ely are “pleased” with the wording of the queries to be askedof the state Supreme Court. They were drafted by the state attorneygeneral’s office and attorneys representing the alliance. “The questions are pretty dry, pretty straight forward,” Evanssaid. “They’re not intended to advocate one point or another.Obviously we need to have a better definition in order to knowwhat the law is.”Basically, the questions ask if the alliance should be definedas an issues committee and if it is, how state election laws shouldapply to such a committee.Ely has maintained that Common Sense Alliance acted as an issuescommittee. The group, he said, was working “for the purpose ofaccepting contributions and making expenditures to support oroppose [a] ballot initiative.” But Evans’ position is that since Common Sense Alliance was formedbefore it began its rail campaign, the group could not “evolve”into issues committee and being defined as such would violateits free speech rights.The issue came to a head when the alliance refused to report itscontributors and the amount of their contributions to fund activitiesassociated with the ballot questions. Pitkin County interpretedthe refusal as a violation of state election laws.Ely filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office askingfor a ruling on whether or not Common Sense Alliance was requiredto file reports in accordance with state election laws regardingissues committees. In October, the Secretary of State’s office ruled that CommonSense Alliance should be defined as an issues committee. Evans,bringing in the ACLU as its attorney, then appealed that rulingto the state Supreme Court.Ely said he hopes the court rules before the “issue comes up againin another election.” If justices rule against the Common Sense Alliance, Evans saidhe has no intention of surrendering his fight.”Even if they rule against us, I’ll take it to federal court,”he said.

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