2 campaigns submit petitions for fall ballot

DENVER – Critics of big money in politics turned in 177,000 signatures Monday to the secretary of state, enough to all but guarantee they will get their initiative on Colorado’s fall ballot.

Also on Monday’s deadline for ballot petitions, supporters of the anti-abortion Personhood initiative turned in 112,000 signatures.

Campaign-finance reform advocates began gathering signatures a month ago and had one of the most successful petition campaigns ever in Colorado.

Their Initiative 82 would tell the state’s U.S. senators and representatives to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow Congress and the states to limit campaign contributions and spending. The U.S. Supreme Court in the 2010 Citizens United case allowed unlimited political spending by corporations and individuals.

The ruling has transferred power to the rich and to large corporations, said Ken Gordon, founder of Clean Slate Now, who supports the initiative.

“It’s necessary for the people to stand up and take that power back,” Gordon said. “Power of the people is the only counterbalance to the power of money.”

Campaigns need 86,105 signatures of Colorado voters to place an initiative on the ballot. The secretary of state has until Sept. 5 to count the signatures from both campaigns. Judging by past years, campaign finance should make the ballot easily, but it will be a closer call for the Personhood measure.

This year is the third time around for the Personhood initiative, which seeks an amendment to the state constitution to declare that embryos from the moment of conception have the same legal rights as any person. The amendment could lead to bans on abortion, common forms of birth control and fertility treatments.

Colorado voters have rejected the amendment twice before on wide margins. But Gilberto Garcia Jones, a campaign official, thinks this year will be different because the Legislature rejected a bill that would have made it a crime to kill a fetus. One of the victims of the Aurora theater massacre suffered a miscarriage, but the alleged shooter can’t be charged with murder for that child’s death.

The fetal homicide argument “is going to play a very big role in this campaign,” Garcia Jones said. “I think it’s going to be a very different campaign.”

Monday was the deadline for all campaigns to turn in signatures.

If both the campaign-finance and Personhood initiatives make the ballot, they will join a citizen initiative to legalize marijuana and a Legislature-approved measure to change the state personnel system.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

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