Code Section
Colorado > Colorado Electoral Code > Fair Campaign Practices Act

1-45-118. Severability

Overview of Statute

Provisions of this article are severable from the rest of the article. Any provision declared invalid will not affect the enforceability of other provisions in the article.


If any provision of this article or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the article which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this article are declared to be severable.

Source: Initiated 96: Entire article R&RE, effective upon proclamation of the Governor, January 15, 1997.


Definition [Person]

Any natural person, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor organization, political party, or other organization or group of persons. Section 2(11) of article XXVIII of the state constitution.


Colorado Cases

Case Name: Colo. Ethics Watch v. Gessler

Citation: 363 P.3d 727 (Colo. App. 2013)

Year: 2013

Case URL:[...]

Case Summary: Holding that the following rule is arbitrary and capricious, because the 30% threshold was unsupported by competent evidence in the record: "In order to determine whether an issue committee has a 'major purpose"' under the constitutional and statutory definitions, [determine whether] a demonstrated pattern of conduct is established where the organization's annual expenditures in support of or in opposition to ballot issues or ballot questions exceed 30% of the organization's total spending during the same period." Holding that Secretary of State did not have the authority to add a "major purpose" requirement, because the constitutional definition of "political committees" is clear and unambiguous. Holding that Secretary of State's rules improperly eliminated the statutory distinction between a political organization and a political committee.

Case Name: Cerbo v. Protect Colo. Jobs, Inc.

Citation: 240 P.3d 495 (Colo. App. 2010)

Year: 2010

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Case Summary: Holding that an organization has a “major purpose” of supporting a ballot issue (for purposes of establishing that it is an issue committee) if such ballot issue support constitutes a considerable or principal portion of organization's total activities; nonprofit organization here had a major purpose of supporting a right-to-work ballot initiative; and phrase “a major purpose” is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad on its face.

Case Name: Patterson Recall Comm., Inc. v. Patterson

Citation: 209 P.3d 1210 (Colo. App. 2009)

Year: 2009

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Case Summary: Holding that Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) had the authority to sanction an issue committee for violating campaign finance laws; until it was terminated, issue committee was required to continue submitting contribution and expenditure reports after county clerk determined it had not gathered enough signatures to trigger a recall; an ALJ had the discretion to not impose a sanction for a violation of campaign laws; ALJ did not abuse her discretion by not sanctioning the committee for its failure to file reports; and committee's appeal was not frivolous.

Case Name: Sherritt v. Rocky Mtn. Fire Dist.

Citation: 205 P.3d 544 (Colo. App. 2009)

Year: 2009

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Case Summary: Holding that sanction for fire district that spent public funds to urge voters to vote in favor of a ballot measure was to be determined by the statute authorizing “any appropriate order or relief” and that the Administrative Law Judge did not abuse its discretion when it imposed a $400 fine on the fire district.

Case Name: Bruce v. City of Colo. Springs

Citation: 200 P.3d 1140 (Colo. App. 2008)

Year: 2008

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Case Summary: Holding that the single subject rule for legislative measures applies only to statewide measures and not to municipal initiatives and that constitutional challenge to the single subject rule had to be decided before the trial court could determine whether initiative violated it.

Case Name: Common Sense Alliance v. Davidson

Citation: 995 P.2d 748 (Colo. 2000)

Year: 2000

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Case Summary: Holding that Fair Campaign Practices Act covers only “issue committees” that were formed for the purpose of supporting or opposing a ballot initiative, so organizations formed for another purpose that later commit to a ballot issue are not within the statute.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Case Name: Citizens for Responsible Gov’t State Political Action Comm. v. Davidson

Citation: 236 F.3d 1174 (10th Cir. 2000)

Federal Circuit Court: 10th Circuit Court

Year: 2000

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Case Summary: Holding that sections of the Fair Campaign Practices Act defining “independent expenditure,” “political committee,” and “political message,” were applicable to issue advocacy groups which had expenditures referring to specific candidates for state office, so that those groups had standing to challenge the law; voter guides that referred to specific candidates but did not expressly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate were “political messages” covered by the Act; the definitions were unconstitutional as applied to plaintiffs; the unconstitutional phrases were severable; the requirement of giving notice of obligation of funds for independent expenditures within 24 hours violated the First Amendment and was not severable from the remainder of the reporting subsection; and the disclaimer provision of the Act was invalid.

Case Name: Citizens for Responsible Gov’t State Political Action Comm. v. Buckley

Citation: 60 F. Supp. 2d 1066 (D. Colo. 1999)

Federal District Court: District of Colorado

Year: 1999

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that the following subsection of the Fair Campaign Practices Act was constitutional: "Any unexpended campaign contributions retained by a candidate committee for use in a subsequent election cycle shall be counted and reported as contributions from political committees in any subsequent election for purposes of section 1–45–104(1) no matter how those contributions were originally classified," because (1) "the State's interest in preventing avoidance of valid contribution limits by use of carryovers is both compelling and served by this restriction" and (2) "[t]his provision is narrowly tailored to accomplish the State's legitimate interest."

Regulations & Guidance