COURT: DOUGCO SCHOOLS OK IN CAMPAIGN CASE
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.