Longmont’s Fair Campaign Practices Act Amendment Process Questioned

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As Longmont City Council considers changes to the city’s Fair Campaign Practices Act, at least one member has raised concerns about the process for doing so.

Councilman Tim Waters said on Monday he had “serious concerns” about the process leading up to council’s discussion on Tuesday night of the Fair Campaign Practices Act – namely, pushing for changes.

A note attached to Tuesday’s agenda says “a small group of residents” have suggested changes be made to the rules for limited liability company contributions to candidates.

“I have already expressed my concern to the clerk that this is reaching us unnamed,” Waters said. “If a small group of residents wants to propose a modification to an ordinance, they come to the Council. The Board listens and would give direction. … In my opinion, this is how (the Council) should work.

At its March 1 meeting, city council asked staff to bring back an amendment specifying that a person must provide their street address when making a donation to a candidate running for local office.

The added wording is meant to make it “very clear” that political committees should list their contributors’ mailing addresses, not email addresses, the memo says.

“If a small group of developers got together to rewrite … the land code or any other aspect of our ordinances, I seriously doubt it would end up in a program,” Waters said. “Regardless of the merits of what’s in the proposed language, the process gives me pause.”

In addition to clarifying the rules around candidate contributions, staff also recommended adding reporting requirements for election communications related to ballot metrics.

“Currently, there is no disclosure required on election communications for or against ballot action and no independent expense report required for materials for or against a ballot action,” the city clerk of the city of Longmont, Dawn Quintana, in an email.

Quintana wasn’t sure how many people were in the small group of residents listed in the council memo, but said he first contacted staff last fall to raise concerns.

City staff will bring back an ordinance with proposed changes to the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act for council to consider for first reading on July 26 and second reading on August 9.

The city wants the proposed changes to be in place by the end of the candidate nomination period on August 29.

Some council members acknowledged and shared Waters’ concerns about the process for putting ordinances on council’s agenda.

“Things that are at the heart of many people’s minds in the way our governance currently operates do not upset precedent and therefore set a new precedent tonight, it could … open a slippery slope,” the mayor said. Pro Tem Aren Rodriguez during Tuesday’s Meeting. “I think we should follow our standard rules.”

Aside from concerns about process, council members seemed generally supportive of the proposed changes to the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

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