Marijuana: Did anti-pot-tax group break campaign law with joint giveways?
Update: Rob Corry has responded to our interview request about the Colorado Ethics Watch complaint against the No on Proposition AA campaign. His comments follow our original post.
Big photos below.
Over the past month or so, the organization opposed to the marijuana taxation measure Proposition AA has staged rallies in Denver and Boulder at which attendees were given free joints. But did the way No on Prop AA reported about its expenditures break Colorado campaign-finance law?
The watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch thinks it did and has filed a complaint with the state on the topic. Details below.
The main concerns cited by CEW in its complaint, submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, which oversees electoral matters in these parts, involve the way the opposition group has dealt with money matters. A September 16 disclosure form is said to have noted a cash contribution of $0.01 -- that's one cent -- from attorney Rob Corry, who helped organize the September 9 rally at Denver's Civic Center Park and a September 23 sequel on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall.
According to CEW, this penny was earmarked for "Marijuana," with another one supposedly designated for "office space" -- presumably a West Colfax address the campaign has reportedly occupied since July.
Photo by Alex Brown Rob Corry addresses the crowd at the first joint giveaway, last month at Civic Center Park.
We've reached out to Corry for comment, and -- update -- new comments can be found on page three of this post. But in a Q&A published the morning of the Boulder free-joint rally, we asked Corry who supplied the cannabis for the event. "Numerous sources who wish to remain anonymous," he replied, adding, "The fair market value of the cannabis is zero since it cannot be legally sold for 'remuneration' without a valid license to do so and no such license presently exists, and will not until January 1, 2014 under Amendment 64."
This explanation doesn't quite fly with Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, who describes the No on Prop AA's one-penny filings as red flags.
"As voters, we're entitled to know who the contributors to a campaign are," Toro notes, "and you can't say, 'The donor would prefer to remain anonymous.' That's been decided: The Colorado constitution and election statutes say if you're going to contribute to a campaign, you should expect that your name is going to be disclosed.
"There is a procedure to redact names of donors," he continues, pointing out that possible reasons for anonymity include a person's status as a victim of domestic violence -- "but that's not what was done here. There isn't a form on the Secretary of State's website that has the name redacted. It just says, 'Rob Corry, one cent,' which cannot be correct."
Of course, one possible reason for the sources to prefer being on the down-low involves the question of whether they broke the law by providing the pot for the rallies.
Continue for more about the campaign complaint involving the No on Prop AA group, including Rob Corry's response.