Campaign finance reform

The flood of money into political television ads has caught the eye of campaign-finance reformers, who are pushing Amendment 65. It would change Colorado statutes to “instruct” the state's nine members of Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to allow Congress and the states to limit campaign spending and fundraising. It also tells the state Legislature to vote to approve such an amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 ruled that corporations and individuals can spend unlimited money on political campaigns. Since then, a few dozen donors have made $1 million-plus contributions to “Super PACs,” a new form of political committee that can be exempt from campaign-finance limits. By amending the U.S. Constitution, activists hope to obliterate the Supreme Court ruling. Colorado has had at least one previous ballot measure that tried to “instruct” members on Congress on how to vote. In 1996, supporters of term limits tried to get members of Congress to amend the Constitution in favor of term limits, but courts threw out the initiative because it tried to attach anti-term limits labels onto candidates' names on the ballot. Supporters of the campaign-finance measure think their measure can withstand legal scrutiny. Arguments for: Everyone, rich or poor, should be subject to the same campaign-donation limits, but the Supreme Court's ruling allows rich people and corporations to wield too great an influence. Arguments against: Previous campaign-finance laws have created a complicated system that favors rich organizations. The First Amendment bars government limits on speech, including political TV ads and other expensive forms of campaigning. Pro website: www.coloradoamend2012.org There is no organized opposition campaign. jhanel@durangoherald.com