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Clear the Bench's Matt Arnold: Court win for CO Ethics Watch a victory for big $ over little guy

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In the meantime, Arnold says, "The big issue here is that this ruling is a real assault on accountability and transparency when it comes to judicial retention elections. Luis Toro trumpets this as a great victory for keeping big money out of those elections, but the opposite is true. This guarantees that hidden big money will be even more influential in future judicial-retention elections."

How so?

"Clear the Bench has been completely open, transparent and accountable," Arnold stresses. "We've followed all the rules, and all our contributions are available for review by the public. There's is no question of any corruption, no question of any undue influence or quid pro quo. It's all out there. But these groups that are supporting retention of judges in office, including CEW, don't account for their contributions and expenditures," because they "hide behind the fiction of their actions being an educational effort. CEW says they're advocating for ethics when we all know very well that their purpose is really to attack groups with which they don't agree. That's why this is a victory for big money over the little guy."

At this point, Arnold can either refile as a political committee or file an appeal -- and in his opinion, "the right thing to do is to file an appeal. It's an unjust ruling, and it should not stand. But the question is whether I'll have the resources and the time to do that because of this very late, fourth-quarter change in the rules of the game. It's going to make it very difficult for me to fight this -- and of course, that's been their intent from the beginning."

Not that he plans to halt his campaign.

"There's a myth being promoted by CEW and this coalition of legal-establishment special-interest groups that there are no politics in judicial merit selection and retention. There is a vast amount of politics, but all of the politicking that's been going on in the nominating commissions, in the so-called performance review commissions that come up with these bogus evaluations, has been hidden.

"They're intensely political -- and like cockroaches, they're not terribly fond of sunlight being shined on their activities. That's why you see such a large, concerted effort to attack Clear the Bench Colorado and our efforts to bring this out into the light. But we're not going to stop."

Page down to see Clear the Bench's release about the ruling:

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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