Tag Archive for Clear the Bench

Republicans seek to conceal campaign donors

Scott GesslerAt the Longmont City Council meeting on May 3, 2011, Mayor Baum and Council Members, Santos, Sammoury and Witt aligned themselves with Scott Gessler to set the reporting threshold for Longmont ballot issues at $5,000, an amount far too low for a municipality and not mandated by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court ruling in Sampson v Buescher.

The success of representative democracy rests on the faith that elections are honest, fair and transparent. The office of Secretary of State should NEVER be politicized regardless of the political affiliation of the person holding that office. The Secretary of State is closely and directly involved in elections. He monitors campaign reporting and certifies election results.

Scott Gessler is Colorado’s Secretary of State. Mr. Gessler’s specialty is election law. He is in this specialty solely for the purpose of facilitating Republican partisan objectives. One way or another, Gessler uses his specialty to accomplish partisan goals. It is why he sued Longmont along with Western Tradition Partnership and certain Longmont Republicans who provided legal standing for that suit. It is why Scott Gessler ran for the office of Secretary of State. From this position he can do all manner of damage to the election process. And mark my words, if you are following his actions and proposed legislation, he is trying as hard as he can. For those who want to know much more about Gessler, they can find the information by searching at the website Free Range Longmont.com

Today Scott Gessler held a rule-making hearing on the subject of reporting thresholds for ballot issue committees. It is extremely suspect whether he even has the authority to do this. Law is made by legislatures and signed by governors. Secretaries of State are simply and only charged with carrying out law. Certainly they are free to offer opinions. But that is as far as they can go. They are not a legislature of ONE.

Gessler’s close associate Matt Arnold of Clear the Bench spoke at length today during the so-called rule-making hearing. His position was that NO reporting for ballot issues should be required; but if there is reporting ,a $10,000 threshold should be as low as it goes. Gessler offered an inadequate and insufficient disclaimer. Gessler was the attorney for Clear the Bench. The purpose of Clear the Bench was to remove Colorado Supreme Court justices from office because of rulings the Republican Party didn’t like.

Whatever dollar amount is determined for Colorado, let it be clear that the frame of reference under discussion at the hearing is for statewide ballot issues. Municipalities are, with rare exception in Colorado, much smaller. Contributors are usually fewer and amounts contributed smaller. USUALLY. The blatant exception was the Comcast/Communications Association’s $250,000 contribution to prevent Longmont from fully using its fiber optic network.

The Sampson ruling affirmed the need for voters to know who contributes to what, but did not draw a bright line – intentionally. Longmont should establish a line for LOCAL issues. That line should be somewhere between $1000 and $1500.

Revised address to Longmont City Council — May 3, 2011

Once more unto the breach

Right-wing ideologues reap the whirlwind

You may or may not have heard of an outfit that calls itself Clear the Bench. It tried its damnedest to get rid of first four, then three, Colorado Supreme Court justices.

Clear the Bench was formed by those who didn’t like certain decisions made by the Colorado Supreme Court because those decisions interfered with the objectives of their favored special interests. In retaliation, Clear the Bench tried to convince the public that Justices Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, Nancy Rice and then-Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey needed to be thrown off the Court.

Mary Mullarkey resigned her position before the election, leaving Governor Bill Ritter to appoint her successor. That left Bender, Martinez and Rice to be targeted.

Colorado justices and judges are not intended to be political positions so they technically “do not run for office.” However, they must periodically appear on the ballot for a “yes” or “no” vote on retention. Such was the case on the November 2010 ballot.

Even with a big push to Republican voters, Clear the Bench failed to get rid of these judges. In fact, they didn’t even come close. The public retained all three justices by approximately 60% in each case.

The endorsements of Clear the Bench’s intentions reads like a who’s who of Colorado Republicans and its print and radio mouthpieces. The allegations that the targeted justices have violated the Colorado Constitution ring as hollow here as the rants that are made by national Republicans claiming all manner of U.S. Constitutional violations.

Since the justices in question have been retained for the next ten years, we have probably heard the last of the organization known as Clear the Bench. But Republicans are nothing if not persistent. Their ideas will keep turning up like bad pennies, or e coli diseases.

One-time Colorado state Senate President John Andrews ran Amendment 40 in the 2006 election which tried to limit terms to “ten years and out” on the State Supreme Court and Appellate Courts. Voters defeated Andrews’ measure .

Andrews and his Limit the Judges tried again in 2008 but failed to get sufficient signatures by the deadline. That initiative targeted judges at all levels and would have limited them to three four-year terms.

Republicans certainly don’t want to wait another ten years to have a crack at the justices they detest. And the adage of three-times being the charmer doesn’t apply to Republican efforts at judicial term limits.

Enter stage right, Peter Coulter, a Vail, Colorado salvage lot owner. He has filed a ballot proposal with the Colorado legislature to reduce the terms of state Supreme Court justices from ten years to two years. Voters would have to retain or oust the justices every two years if the measure makes it to the ballot and is passed by the voters. The measure would also limit the chief justice to serving in that role for only two years at a time.

Coulter is a perfect minion because he has an anti-government ax to grind. Back in the 1990s, Coulter apparently had litigation that didn’t conclude as he wanted and is driven to “rein in the power” of the Supreme Court. In 2005 the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Water Quality Control Division found him guilty of violating the Colorado Water Quality Act for failure to have the required storm water drainage permit and for discharging pollutants into the South Platte River.

So let’s make a deal, John Andrews, Peter Coulter et al. We’ll pass your Colorado Supreme Court term limits if you’ll place the same term limits on Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas.