Following a Colorado Media Matters item, the Rocky Mountain News published a correction of an article it had “edited in a way that omitted the opposition's argument in a hearing on Secretary of State Gigi Dennis' changing” of campaign finance rules.
Following a Colorado Media Matters item, the Rocky Mountain News published a September 21 correction acknowledging it had omitted Democratic criticisms from its publication of an Associated Press report about controversial campaign finance rule changes adopted by Republican Secretary of State Gigi Dennis. As the News explained, the version of the AP article that appeared in the September 15 edition of the paper “was edited in a way that omitted the opposition's argument in a court hearing on Secretary of State Gigi Dennis' changing of the rules for small-donor committees.” As part of its correction, the News included the paragraphs it had removed from the original AP article.
Dennis issued the revised campaign finance rules August 2, prompting a lawsuit from a coalition of unions, private citizens, and a Democratic state representative seeking to block enforcement of the new rules. In addition to requiring written consent to use membership dues for political campaigns, the new rules require political committees to affirm under penalty of perjury that campaign contributions came from “permissible” sources.
On September 15, the News shortened a September 14 AP article reporting on a hearing to determine whether to delay the implementation of the revised campaign finance rules until after the November election. The AP article as published by the News stated, “Attorneys for GOP Secretary of State Gigi Dennis on Thursday defended her new campaign finance laws against allegations that they were designed to punish Democrats, saying she had to make the changes to prevent corruption.” The article also stated, “Deputy Attorney General Justin Dunn told the judge unions and other small-donor groups were taking advantage of loopholes to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates, giving them an unfair advantage. He said Dennis has a duty to enforce campaign finance laws approved by voters.”
But the News' version of the article omitted the criticisms of Democratic attorney Mark Grueskin, who, according to the original AP article “said attorneys for Republicans drafted the new rules and Dennis approved them without disclosing where she got them, a requirement when the secretary of state adopts new rules.” The original AP article, unlike the News version, also noted that “Grueskin told [Denver District Judge John] McMullen the new rules were a blatant attempt by Republicans to punish unions and other small-donor groups who were giving money to Democrats.” (Grueskin also serves as counsel for Colorado Media Matters.)
The Rocky Mountain News' September 21 correction:
This Associated Press story was edited in a way that omitted the opposition's argument in a court hearing on Secretary of State Gigi Dennis' changing of the rules for small-donor committees. The omitted paragraphs:
Attorney Mark Grueskin told (Denver District Judge John) McMullen the new rules were a blatant attempt by Republicans to punish unions and other small-donor groups who were giving money to Democrats.
He said attorneys for Republicans drafted the new rules and Dennis approved them without disclosing where she got them, a requirement when the secretary of state adopts new rules.
Grueskin said the secretary of state can implement rules only to enforce laws. He said there was no law requiring labor unions or other small-donor groups to disclose the information the new rules demand.
Grueskin said the rules don't affect most Republican candidates because they get their contributions from major donors.
“There is no reasonable reason to treat these organizations differently,” Grueskin said.
As Colorado Media Matters noted, news reports stated that Republican lawyers “drafted” at least one of Dennis's new rules. An August 24 Post article reported that John Zakhem, who represents the Republican-backed Trailhead Group and the state Republican Party, and Scott Gessler, an attorney for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez's campaign, “proposed requiring groups to get written permission from each member to transfer dues to a political or small-donor committee.” According to the Post, that rule “was adopted in its entirety by Dennis.” Apparently in reference to the same rule change, the News reported August 25, “The language in one new provision was taken verbatim from a recommendation by GOP attorneys John Zakhem and Scott Gessler.”
In addition, the Post reported August 24 that “Gessler acknowledged politics played a role” in his advocacy for Dennis's rule changes. The Post reported September 15 that in testifying about his role in the rule changes, Zakhem said, “My job is to win elections for Republicans.”