Federal Court Upholds Colorado Contribution Limits

Yesterday, following a 2-day hearing, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado rejected a request by two candidates and a donor to halt enforcement of the state’s voter-approved campaign contribution limits—leaving those limits in effect for this year’s elections.

Colorado Common Cause, Common Cause, and the Campaign Legal Center filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit, Lopez v. Griswold, urging the result the court reached in its ruling yesterday.

“Judge Kane correctly rejected the candidates’ and donor’s request for ‘extraordinary relief’ of suspending enforcement, in the midst of an election, of voter-approved contribution limits that have worked well for 20 years,” said Cameron Hill, Colorado Common Cause Associate Director. “We need strong protections in our democracy so everyone has a say in our government, not just the wealthy and well-connected. The court’s decision upholding these limits makes clear that in Colorado, the size of your wallet shouldn’t determine the strength of your voice.”

The plaintiffs in the case include Greg Lopez, a second time gubernatorial candidate; Rodney Pelton, a state senate candidate; and Steven House, a campaign donor who has contributed more than $200,000 to Colorado candidates since 2010. Together, the plaintiffs have asked the court to declare unconstitutional state’s campaign contribution limits, $1,250 per donor per cycle to candidates for statewide office and $400 per donor per cycle to candidates for state legislature.

“Twenty years ago, Colorado voters united across race and place to approve campaign finance reform that would restore the power to the people,” said Martha Tierney, Common Cause Board Chair. “The court’s rejection of this last-minute request to unleash a flood of unlimited money and drown out the voices of everyday Coloradans keeps power where it belongs—in the hands of the voters.”

“Americans across the political spectrum agree that we need a campaign finance system that will not allow wealthy special interests to overpower the will of the voters,” said Adav Noti, Vice President and Legal Director at Campaign Legal Center. “By keeping voter-approved contribution caps in-place, yesterday’s ruling not only follows nearly a half-century of U.S. Supreme Court precedent, but helps assure everyday citizens that their voices are not being drowned out.”

Colorado Common Cause supported Initiative 27, the Colorado Campaign Finance System Initiative that voters approved in 2002 and for the past two decades has continued to advocate enforcement of these limits with broad public support.

To view the court’s opinion denying a preliminary injunction, click here.