SDC Files Complaint For Fair Campaign Practices Act
Strengthening Democracy Colorado files Fair Campaign Practices Act complaint against the City of Denver and City Council President Albus Brooks
Today, Strengthening Democracy Colorado (“SDC”) submitted a formal complaint to the Secretary of State outlining violations of the Fair Campaign Practices Act (“FCPA”) by the City of Denver and City Council President Albus Brooks. Specifically, they’ve violated C.R.S. § 1-45-117 by using public resources to promote the political campaign of Councilman Brooks. In our complaint, we outline how Councilman Brooks used city staff to create a campaign fundraiser for himself on Facebook and how that fundraiser was promoted with city resources.
The law on the matter is clear cut: government resources cannot be used to campaign for a candidate or initiative campaign (with very limited exceptions). Some might argue that the public resources used were minimal, and that this is making mountains out of mole hills. We have plenty to say in response to that.
First, the principal at stake here is of fundamental importance. Taxpayer dollars should not be used to selectively fund political campaigns. We’d be happy to see the public consent to a fair and universal public financing regime, but until that happens using public resources to campaign is completely inappropriate.
Secondly, public officials owe us a higher standard of conduct. We’re fined $100 or so for going five over the speed limit. That’s the perspective the public should have when looking at our elected officials. We pay them to make decisions on our behalf about how our resources are deployed, and we fund a support staff and offices full of government attorneys to help them do so properly. This is the responsibility they asked us for by running for office, and fulfilling that responsibility is their job.
Lastly, we ask you to think about how much being promoted by the largest city in Colorado is worth. Tenants at DIA pay good money for that. We imagine a ton of organizations and individuals would. That’s the measure we should apply here.
One last thought. The Fair Campaign Practices Act looks great on paper, but it’s not much more than a paper tiger. You can tell whether our government is serious about doing something by how well they fund it. Unlike our criminal justice system, we don’t fund law enforcement or prosecutors offices to enforce the FCPA. There aren’t even provisions analogous to bounty hunters that allow private parties to recover their costs and fees.
That means that reporting this violation will likely cost SDC more than the actual parties that violated the law. That means we can’t be as thorough as we’d like to be in putting on evidence or testimony at a hearing. It also means that many violations slip by unnoticed.
For more information about this or SDC’s efforts generally, feel free to contact us with the information provided above.
Strengthening Democracy Colorado