Campaign Integrity Watchdog Notches Another Appellate Win
Coordinating with candidates isn’t required for a nonprofit to have to register as a political committee, Court of Appeals rules

by Doug Chartier

An organization that has been taking nonprofits to court for campaign finance violations got another win on appeal.

In an unpublished opinion delivered May 30, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed that Colorado Pioneer Action, a nonprofit run by former Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, was a political committee under the state constitution. As a result, CPA is liable for monetary sanctions that an administrative law judge imposed on the organization in 2017.

The ALJ had also levied sanctions against the plaintiff, Campaign Integrity Watchdog, for publicizing financial information in violation of a court order, but the appellate court reversed that punishment. Barring a petition for cert to the Colorado Supreme Court, the case goes back to the ALJ to award costs to CIW.

The Court of Appeals decision is the latest in a string of wins CIW has secured in its campaign finance litigation, and in cases mostly argued by the nonprofit’s non-attorney director, Matt Arnold. CIW has gone after organizations operating as 501(c)(4) “social welfare organizations,” saying they engage in political campaign activities while not disclosing their finances as required by state law.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the June 10, 2019 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.