Durango Herald News, Campaigns on bail bond issue run afoul of finance laws
DENVER - Sponsors of a ballot measure on bail bonds have never filed a campaign-finance report despite a large-scale petition drive to put Proposition 102 on the ballot.
In addition, the secretary of state's office could not confirm that one of the sponsors, Mike Paul Donovan, is a registered Colorado voter, although Donovan's co- sponsor, Matthew Duran, insists they both are Colorado voters.
Opponents of Proposition 102 have not registered an official campaign, either.
The issue exposes the inability of Colorado's election laws to make sure Colorado voters know who is for and against the issues they will see on the November ballot. It is the second time this election that a group has managed to place questions before voters without revealing who paid for the campaign.
"Voters should have the right to weigh the credibility of what's on the ballot based on whose interests are at stake, who's funding it," said Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, who has sponsored several campaign-finance bills.
Proposition 102 would ban judges from releasing repeat or violent offenders into pretrial services programs unless they post a monetary bail. Opponents call it a giveaway to bond companies.
"If you are going to come to Colorado and mess with our system, then you should at least have to comply the with the laws of our state," said Stefanie Clarke, a spokeswoman for groups opposed to Proposition 102.
Duran says his opponents are also playing loose with the law.
"It's ironic because our opponents are throwing this out there, and they haven't even set up a campaign committee yet," Duran said.
Indeed, no campaign has registered to oppose Proposition 102. Clarke said the groups that oppose Proposition 102 have not raised or spent money, and she works for the Pretrial Justice Institute. The nonprofit group has a First Amendment right to weigh in on issues, and its lawyer has made sure the group is following the law, she said.
The anti-102 groups have no plans to raise money or advertise, Clarke said.
Duran said he and Donovan paid for the petition campaign, which turned in 170,000 signatures Aug. 2. The official pro-102 campaign, Safe Streets Colorado, did not registered until 24 days later, and it still has not filed a campaign-finance report to disclose its donors to the public.