Craig settles suit with Francisco Reina
City to pay $2.2K in City Council candidate's legal fees, agrees to void spending limit
Craig — Attorneys for the city of Craig agreed to a settlement Friday in Moffat County District Court for local resident Francisco Reina’s civil suit, filed by an American Civil Liberties Union legal team.
Reina will not collect any damages or financial awards, but the city will pay $2,243.50 to his attorneys for legal fees.
The city also agreed to a temporary injunction preventing it from enforcing the city charter’s campaign spending limit Reina violated in the April 2009 municipal election.
The charter states a candidate may not contribute more than $500 of his or her own money to their campaign. However, Reina submitted documents to the city clerk that showed he spent $1,512.78, more than three times the limit.
On May 27, the city cited him with a Class A municipal violation, which carries as much as a $1,000 fine and as many as 180 days in jail.
On July 15, two days before Reina was scheduled to appear in municipal court, cooperating attorneys for the ACLU filed their civil suit against the city.
The attorneys claimed the city’s spending limit breaches a 1976 Supreme Court decision that stated government could not limit someone’s personal contributions to his or her own campaign without violating the right to free speech.
City Attorney Kenny Wohl dismissed the municipal case against Reina at his court appearance July 17, but Reina’s attorneys kept the civil case open. They have said they wanted to make sure the city couldn’t enforce the spending limit against anyone else in the future because it is unconstitutional.
In the injunction signed by Reina and attorneys for both sides, it states the city agrees its spending limit is unconstitutional, based on the Supreme Court decision cited by Reina’s lawyers.
According to court documents, the injunction is temporary until the coming election day, Nov. 3, when Craig voters will vote whether to delete the spending limit from the charter.
If residents vote to delete the provision, then the injunction goes away.
If they vote to keep the spending limit, then the injunction becomes permanent, and would bar the city from prosecuting someone for violating the provision.
However, the injunction states that if the Supreme Court ever reverses its decision in Buckley v. Valeo, the city would be free to impose the same spending limit.
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