CONTACT: Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director, 303-777-5482 x114
Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) filed suit against the City of Craig in Moffat County District Court late Monday afternoon, asking the court to declare that a provision of the Craig City Charter violates the First Amendment and cannot be enforced. The Charter forbids candidates for city posts to spend more than $500 on their campaigns. The ACLU filed the legal action on behalf of Francisco Reina, who ran unsuccessfully for Craig City Council in April, 2009. Reina faces a criminal charge of violating the spending limit and is set to appear in Craig Municipal Court on Wednesday morning June 17.
“The First Amendment right of free expression protects the right of candidates for public office to spend their own money to promote their views and inform the public about their candidacy,” said Ed Ramey, an ACLU Cooperating Attorney who filed the legal challenge.
Reina spent approximately $1500 of his own money on his unsuccessful campaign. City Attorney Kenneth Wohl initially said he did not believe that a prosecution was warranted. The City Council, however, voted 6-0 May 26 to “recommend” that Reina be prosecuted, and he was promptly served with a summons. Violation of the city charter is a misdemeanor carrying a potential punishment of a fine up to $1000 and up to 180 days in jail.
About the ACLU of Colorado
The ACLU is a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to defending and preserving the principles of the Bill of Rights through litigation, advocacy and public education. The ACLU Foundation of Colorado works to protect the rights of all Coloradans.