Gunnison’s Curry files lawsuit over campaign finance rules
DENVER, Colorado – A former Democrat who is now an unaffiliated state representative has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that Colorado’s campaign contribution rules are unfair to candidates who don’t belong to the two major parties.
Gunnison Rep. Kathleen Curry argues in the lawsuit that the state’s campaign finance rules are unconstitutional and restrict how unaffiliated candidates raise money. That’s because the major party candidates can collect the maximum contributions twice – once for a primary and again for the general election – but unaffiliated candidates can receive the maximum contribution once for the general election because they don’t stand in primaries, according to the lawsuit.
Curry’s lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court names Gov. Bill Ritter and the secretary of state’s office. The Denver Post reported the lawsuit Saturday.
“I have to have twice the number of contributors to come up with the same amount of money,” Curry said. She said candidates who belong to third parties and are unopposed in primaries are also affected by the rules. As an example Curry cited former Republican Tom Tancredo, who is now the American Constitution Party’s candidate for Colorado governor.
“Both of us are in the same boat,” Curry said.
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John Wittman, Tancredo’s spokesman, said the former Republican was aware of the rules before he switched parties.
“Whether or not we think it’s fair is irrelevant,” he said. “We are going to do the best we can with the rules already in place.”
Tancredo switched parties and jumped in the governor’s race because he said he didn’t think either Scott McInnis or Dan Maes, the GOP’s candidates for governor, were strong enough to defeat Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper. McInnis and Maes are facing each other in Tuesday’s primary.
The job of the secretary of state’s office is to follow the laws set in Colorado, said spokesman Rich Coolidge.
“We strictly enforce the laws provided to us by the legislature and the people of Colorado through the initiative process,” he said.
Curry is Colorado’s only unaffiliated state lawmaker. She is facing Republican Luke Korkowski and Democrat Roger Wilson in November’s election. However, Curry has to run as a write-in candidate after losing a federal lawsuit challenging a state law requiring unaffiliated candidates to be registered for 17 months to petition onto the ballot. The official wait time for Republicans and Democrats is 12 months, but parties can shorten that. That lawsuit is under appeal.