The Denver Post - - NEWS - Brian Eason, The Den­ver Post

The Colorado Supreme Court on Mon­day ruled that the Dou­glas County School District didn’t vi­o­late state cam­paign fi­nance laws when it com­mis­sioned and dis­trib­uted a re­port pro­mot­ing a re­form agenda en­dorsed by a num­ber of con­ser­va­tive school board can­di­dates.

The rul­ing af­firms a state Court of Ap­peals rul­ing, which had over­turned a 2013 lower court de­ci­sion that the district’s re­port rep­re­sented an il­le­gal cam­paign do­na­tion to the can­di­dates paid for with pub­lic funds.

The district had hired Rick Hess, direc­tor of ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy stud­ies for the Amer­i­can En­ter­prise In­sti­tute, to au­thor a pos­i­tive re­port about the school re­forms. The re­port was emailed to 85,000 sub­scribers in the weeks be­fore the Novem­ber 2013 elec­tion.

The suit was brought by Julie Keim, a for­mer Dou­glas County school board can­di­date, who al­leged the re­port was ef­fec­tively an in­di­rect con­tri­bu­tion to a slate of can­di­dates who sup­ported that same re­form agenda, in­clud­ing a voucher pro­gram and end­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the teach­ers union.

The school district paid half of Hess’ $30,000 fee, while the district’s non­profit fundrais­ing arm paid the rest.

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