Letter About Speech-Chilling Campaign Laws

The June 16 Denver Post published my letter about Colorado’s speech-chilling campaign laws. The same page includes the contrary view of Jenny Flanagan from Colorado Common Cause.

Re: “Minor players, major burden,” June 15 editorial.

Thank you for your editorial supporting the secretary of state’s rule exempting small issue groups from complying with onerous campaign laws. As the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found, and as I have personally experienced, the previous rules violate people’s rights of free speech and association.

Under those rules, to speak out for or against any ballot measure spending more than $200, one must first register with the state, learn 100 pages of dense legalese, comply with difficult reporting requirements, and then still risk getting sued by the likes of Colorado Ethics Watch. This chills speech.

Moreover, the right of free speech entails the right to speak anonymously — a right many of our nation’s Founders invoked in debating the Constitution. Consider such heated issues as abortion, immigration, gay rights, and guns. Voters have every right to ask for disclosure, but not to force it, and to vote accordingly.

Ari Armstrong, Westminster

Unfortunately, two anti-free speech groups, Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Ethics Watch, have sued Gessler over the rule change. Read the reports from the Denver Post and Colorado Independent.

In related news, see Nat Hentoff’s excellent remarks about anonymous speech.

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