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Longmont campaign donors may no longer list PO boxes soon

After carrying the change 4-3, city council will hold a public hearing on the change to campaign practices on June 6.
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Longmont donors may no longer be able to list post office boxes as their address when making campaign contributions over $50.

On Tuesday, Longmont City Council carried an ordinance 4-3  in the first reading that removes references to PO boxes from the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act. It goes to a public hearing and second reading on June 6.

Mayor Pro Tem Aren Rodriguez and Councilmembers Tim Waters and Marcia Martin opposed the change, which Mayor Joan Peck asked be brought forth to council last month.

Currently in Longmont, all candidates, political and issue committees must report contributions to the city clerk, including the name and street address or PO box of each person who has contributed $50 or more per election year. Those donations and the donor’s associated addresses are publicly available on the city’s website.

Waters and Martin both aired grievances with the change, believing that it would stop certain people who either don’t have a street address or don’t want to share it publicly for safety reasons from participating in the public process.

“We’re saying to a whole section of our community, you don’t get to participate in this political process by supporting candidates with a donation to their campaign,” Waters said.

Martin argued that people shouldn’t be required to reveal their address in the public record, and that disallowing PO boxes didn’t make sense.

“There’s no requirement in this charter that a person who donates to a campaign lives in Longmont,” Martin said. “There’s essentially no requirements at all about them other than that they be a person either in flesh and blood or corporate.”

Peck said that the fact that corporations are considered a person in the U.S. with First Amendment rights and the ability to donate to campaigns since the 2010 Citizens United ruling is why she brought this change forward.

“If they are to be labeled as persons, I think they should also be providing their addresses,” she said.

Councilmember Sean McCoy added that the circumstances brought up by Martin and Waters would be rare.

“This is one of those changes that people want to know, and I don’t think there’s any harm in it,” he said.

Any campaign donation in Longmont is still limited to $260 per election cycle. Four council positions are up for election this fall, including the seats held by Peck, Waters, McCoy and Councilmember Susie Hidalgo-Fahring.