Tags: political | ads | colorado

Colo. Court Upholds 'Magic Words' Test for Political Ads

Thursday, 23 Feb 2012 05:09 AM

By Greg McDonald

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The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that tax-exempt political organizations can raise unlimited amounts of money to pay for political ads, as long they do not expressly call on voters to back a specific candidate or cause.
 
According to the Denver Post, the ruling, which effectively struck down a state law limiting contributions to political committees to $550 per person, reflects an earlier U.S. Supreme Court decision on so-called 527 groups that established a threshold of “magic words” prohibited from use in political ads.

Under the federal ruling, 527s can raise and spend money without limits as long as their ads stay away from using words like “vote for, ” “reject,” “elect,” or “defeat” to sway voters one way or another. Other than that, the ads can pretty much convey any message a particular group wants to get across.

Attorney Mario Nicolais, who argued the case on behalf of two Republican-affiliated groups — the Senate Majority Fund and the Colorado Leadership Fund — told the Post the decision represents “a complete victory” for free speech.

But Colorado Ethics Watch called the decision “disappointing” and vowed to continue its efforts to enact tougher laws dealing with political contributions.

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