A proposed Denver ballot initiative aimed at reining in big-donor campaign contributions and setting up a public financing system for city elections now faces a challenge in court. While backers that include Colorado Common Cause and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) are working to collect nearly 5,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot, David Kenney — a political consultant and lobbyist who is active in the business community — recently filed a challenge in Denver District Court. His request for court intervention, filed June 27, alleges that the initiative is so wide-ranging that it violates a single-subject rule for ordinances. The challenge also says the ballot title approved by the Denver Elections Division inadequately summarizes the measure and includes words intended to sway voters, including that the initiative “increases transparency in political campaigns.”
Responses by the petitioners’ committee and the city attorney’s office defend the city’s approval of the measure for petitioning on June 22 and ask the court to dismiss Kenney’s other claims as invalid, including the fact the city alleges his court filing wasn’t properly served on the city.
Judge J. Eric Elliff has set the challenge for trial on July 20, with more legal wrangling on paper due before then. Notably, the city’s motion to dismiss Kenney’s challenge asserts that unlike state law, the city charter doesn’t allow citizens to bring such challenges in courts, except by backers of a rejected ballot title. And the city charter requires a single subject only for ordinances passed by the council, the city says, and not for ordinances initiated by voters.