CSG v. Gessler: Plaintiff’s Opening Brief (Colorado Supreme Court)

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed its opening brief in the Colorado Supreme Court, which earlier agreed to answer four questions presented by a federal judge hearing the case of Coalition for a Secular Government (CSG) v. Gessler.

The brief argues, concerning the first question to be considered by the Court, that lengthy policy papers such as those published by CSG should not be construed as express advocacy on a ballot question just because they conclude that a proposed ballot question should be defeated.  Even if such writings are considered express advocacy, the brief argues that the Court should rule that they are protected by the press exemption, which exempts “commentary writings” and the like—the subject of the second question.  The brief also notes that the Colorado constitutional provisions regulating campaign finance make “no mention of policy papers at all.”

The brief then addresses the third question: whether CSG’s papers are a regulated “written or broadcast communications” under Colorado law, or if they become a regulated communication after being posted on a blog or Facebook page.  It concedes the papers are “written” in the strict sense of the word, and argues that the statute was not designed to cover such public policy papers.

Finally, in answering the question about the monetary trigger for regulated issue committee status, the brief urges the Court to adopt a trigger sufficiently high enough to shield CSG’s publications from regulation, and also comply with federal law.  The group projects it would spend about $3500 on the papers.