Ethics group persuades judge to seal some of its campaign records
DENVER – A campaign group that persuaded voters to approve tough ethics rules for lawmakers and lobbyists has obtained a court order sealing some of its records from public view after arguing the documents could be used against it.The order, made public Wednesday, covers more than a dozen documents from Coloradans for Clean Government.Jenny Flanagan, spokeswoman for Colorado Common Cause, a public policy lobbying group that sponsored Coloradans for Clean Government, said the sealed records were internal documents that should not be made public.”It’s not that we’re trying to hide anything, it’s a matter of relevance,” she said.The documents and the order keeping them sealed came to light in a court hearing where opponents argued for an injunction to block the ethics rules until a lawsuit challenging them can be heard.The lawsuit argues the rules, known collectively as Amendment 41, are unconstitutional.Wednesday was the third day of the hearing. Denver District Court Judge Christine Habas has not said when she will rule.In her original May 3 ruling, Habas allowed attorneys in the battle over Amendment 41 to see the Coloradans for Clean Government documents but ordered them labeled “Confidential” and “Attorneys Eyes Only.”She agreed that making the documents public could subject the campaign group to “annoyance or embarrassment” and said that justified limiting access to them.After an hourlong hearing Wednesday, Habas allowed the records to remain sealed.Attorney Doug Friednash, who represents opponents of Amendment 41, said orders sealing documents usually are issued only for confidential information such as trade secrets.Deputy attorney general Maurice Knaizer, who is defending Amendment 41 on behalf of the state, declined to discuss the order.
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