Election Guide 2012: Amendment 65 takes on campaign finance

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Election 2012

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Amendment 65

Shall there be amendments to the Colorado constitution and the Colorado revised statutes concerning support by Colorado’s legislative representatives for a federal constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions and spending, and, in connection therewith, instructing Colorado’s congressional delegation to propose and support, and the members of Colorado’s state legislature to ratify, an amendment to the United States constitution that allows Congress and the states to limit campaign contributions and spending?

■ Yes ■ No

Amendment 65, one of three statewide ballot questions to be decided by Colorado voters this fall, seeks to strike down the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 Citizens United decision by instructing state lawmakers and Colorado’s congressional delegation to push for and support campaign finance reform at the federal level.

Petitioned onto the ballot by several political action groups, Amendment 65 would alter the Colorado constitution as well as the state’s revised statutes to “instruct” the state’s seven U.S. representatives and two U.S. senators to “propose and support ... an amendment to the United States constitution that allows Congress and the states to limit campaign contributions and spending, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, can express their views to one another and their government on a level playing field.”

Amendment 65 advocates say their measure is needed in order to reduce the political influence of wealthy individuals and corporations as it pertains to campaign contributions and spending.

The contentious issue of campaign finance was further fueled by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case that campaign contributions by corporations are a form of protected political speech under the First Amendment. The court’s ruling sparked outrage among many who already think campaign spending is out of control.

Although Amendment 65 would alter state law to encourage lawmakers to enact change at the federal level, its provisions would have no actual affect on existing state or federal campaign laws.

Supporters of Amendment 65 say it would send a message from Colorado voters to their elected representatives that campaign contributions and spending should be limited so as to create a level playing field where all perspectives and sides can be heard.

Detractors of Amendment 65 say that because the measure cannot require elected representatives to support certain laws or policies, it has no practical effect. Similarly, they say the state constitution should not be amended simply to make a political statement. They also argue that Amendment 65 could help lead to restrictions on freedom of speech.

Information also was provided by the 2012 State Ballot Information Booklet.

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