Bill Ritter blackout?: Senator Bill Cadman wants ban on gubernatorial self-promotion

Shortly after most politicos take office, they begin marking their territory via photos, publications, web pages and lots of other aggrandizers. And Colorado Springs Senator Bill Cadman wants it to stop.

Cadman is reportedly sick at the thought of the state chucking tons of brochures featuring Governor Bill Ritter, who's announced that he won't run for reelection this year. So, in an attempt to stop such waste in the future, he's authored a bill, co-sponsored by fellow senators Josh Penry, Ken Kester and Mike Kopp and due to be presented to the veterans and military affairs committee tomorrow, that would put the kibosh on such items -- and a helluva lot more. Here's the bill's summary:

The bill prohibits the elected state officials subject to the campaign contribution limits under the campaign finance provisions of the state constitution from expending public moneys, or from authorizing the expenditure of any public moneys, on any print or visual media announcement, broadcast media announcement, web site communication, or similar type of general public communication that refers to the elected state official or any person employed by or serving under the elected state official by either personal name or by audio or visual likeness, subject only to the following exceptions:

An elected state official or the state agency that employs the official may publish and make available a single publication on a yearly basis listing the official along with other persons employed by or serving under the official for contact and basic informational purposes only;

Reference to the name or likeness of an elected state official or any person employed by or serving under the official may be made in an announcement or other communication that is required by law in order for the official or such person to undertake his or her official duties; or

Reference may be made to the elected state official or persons employed by or serving under the official by personal name or likeness in broadcasts or records of public meetings and other official proceedings.

The bill permits any person alleging a violation of its provisions to file a written complaint. The bill further specifies that any person who commits a violation of its provisions shall be subject to and personally liable for a civil penalty of at least double and up to 5 times the amount of the expenditure of public moneys constituting the violation.

If the bill passed as written, would the offices of the governor, attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state be forbidden to issue press releases? Or could they do so if they referred to the person holding the job by their title alone? And if so, doesn't that seem a little, er, communistic? Should we just start calling everyone "Comrade" to simplify things?

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts