Local

Pitkin County Barred From Campaign Finance Change

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Scott Gessler (credit: CBS)

Scott Gessler (credit: CBS)

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) – Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has barred Pitkin County from enforcing its own campaign finance rules along with state rules.

Pitkin County is the only county in the state with its own rules. County officials had used the local rules to cover issues that the state rules didn’t address.

According to the Aspen Daily News, county election manager Dwight Shellman III recommended county commissioners ask voters this November to repeal all of the county’s campaign finance rules and defer to state law for the 2012 election.

Shellman and Pitkin County Clerk Janice Vos Caudill had recommended a hybrid approach using both state and local law, but Gessler rejected the idea.

“The secretary of state will not allow a hybrid option,” Shellman told the commissioners. “We are either all in or all out.”

Without county campaign finance rules, local parties and issue committees have no rules, Shellman said.

The commissioners are expected to review a draft of the proposed ballot issue on Aug. 10. Their time for debate is limited because county officials have scheduled an Aug. 23 meeting to finalize the November ballot.

County commissioners have expressed reluctance to give up a $500 limit on campaign contributions included in the local rules.

“The $500 limit reflects local values, which is not to let politics get out of hand — that elections should not be financed by one or two people,” Commissioner Michael Owsley said.

The commissioners have agreed to place a separate election item on the November ballot to plug some gaps in local requirements for elected officials. Among them is the lack of eligibility requirements for candidates for Pitkin County commissioner and other county offices.

Candidates are not even technically required to be 18 years old, the commissioners said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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