Tom Paine may remain a political icon, but his modern-day successors who spend a few hundred dollars on yard signs and leaflets to support a ballot measure will be subjected to a welter of complex legal rules and no one gives it a thought.
Except the courts, fortunately. In three separate opinions — in 2010, 2014 and again last month — federal courts have indicated that Colorado’s law governing individuals and groups that raise and spend relatively small amounts of money on ballot measures violates the First Amendment.
If you raise or spend more than $200, you become an “issue committee” that must register with the state and then comply with a host of disclosure rules. Basically, you’ve got to hire an attorney to make sure you are following the law when all you’re doing is engaging in protected speech.