Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition

A nonprofit organization

The disinfecting power of sunshine, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called it, is fundamental to a healthy democracy. CFOIC helps engaged citizens and journalists navigate the freedom-of-information laws that let us monitor state and local governmental agencies and hold them accountable.


"In an age of declining traditional media, CFOIC is an essential voice for government transparency." - Luis Toro

"The CFOIC provides invaluable resources and information." - Kelsey Warner

"An invaluable resource for journalists, and anyone who is interested in freedom of information.' - Matt Lubich


The purpose of the Coalition shall be to safeguard the right of the public to information it must have to act reasonably in a free and democratic society, and to monitor the climate in which Colorado journalism (print, broadcast and online) must meet its obligations to society. Additionally, the Coalition shall educate Colorado citizens that: the protection afforded by the United States and Colorado constitutions is a public right; government conducted in the open benefits the public interest; and a free and unfettered press is vital to the democratic process.

Background Statement

Rocky Mountain News editorial page editor Jean Otto organized the first meeting of the Colorado Freedom of Information Council, as it was known for most of its history, on Aug. 3, 1987. In attendance were representatives of various media and civic organizations, including the Colorado Press Association, Colorado Broadcasters Association, Society of Professional Journalists, United Press International, Colorado Common Cause, League of Women Voters of Colorado and First Amendment Congress. Also present was Milwaukee Sentinel Editor Bob Wills, who explained how the work of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council could be replicated in Colorado.

The purpose of the fledgling Colorado organization, according to minutes of that first meeting, was "to safeguard the right of the public to information it must have to act responsibly in a free and democratic society." It would do this by monitoring state legislation affecting freedom-of-information matters, contacting legislators when appropriate, filing friend-of-the-court briefs in open-government judicial cases and organizing forums for the public.

Both the mission and leadership of the CFOIC changed significantly after the organization was granted 501(c)(3) status in 2012. Securing tax-exempt status was the first step toward making the CFOIC more like its robust sister organizations in Florida, Virginia, New England, Texas and California. These well-established nonprofits provide a wealth of resources on FOI-related issues and routinely assist journalists and citizens in their states with FOI-related questions and problems.

Previously, the CFOIC was an all-volunteer organization of journalists, citizens and the state's leading media-law attorneys. Following a fundraising campaign to match a grant from the National Freedom of Information Coalition, the CFOIC hired its first executive director in July 2013. The board of directors was expanded in January 2014 to include publishers, editors and producers from several news media outlets in Colorado as well as executives from the Colorado Press Association, Colorado Broadcasters Association and Colorado Ethics Watch. After 17 years as CFOIC president, media law attorney Tom Kelley stepped down and was replaced by law partner Steve Zansberg. Kelley remains on the board of directors.

More on CFOIC's history:

Organization Data


Organization name

Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition

other names

Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, CFOIC, Colorado Freedom of Information Council

Year Established


Tax id (EIN)



Public & Societal Benefit


2101 Arapahoe St.
Denver, CO 80205

Service areas

Denver County, CO, US





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