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Campaign Finance

Black hole in campaign finance sucking all the light out of politics

Megan Schrader (Denver Post) – Colorado lawmakers have a chance in the next couple weeks to close a black hole in the campaign finance universe that is sucking all the light out of politics.

When candidates and political committees run honest campaigns based on fact and policy and character, they do so in part because the bright light of scrutiny is shining on their actions and their words.

Colorado’s media try to fact-check political statements, especially those from candidates. But operating in the darkness are third-party shadow groups engaged in the “fake news” of fliers, advertisements and online videos, ads and posts. There’s little accountability for these groups now, but there’s hope.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Denver Post.

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City councilors want to explore tighter controls on campaign donations

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- A nasty Colorado Springs City Council campaign in which one group spent at least $240,000 without identifying donors is spurring interest in taking a new look at local campaign finance rules.

Five members of the new Council, due to take office April 18, say they’re up for rethinking the city’s code, which allows unlimited donations and doesn’t restrict so-called “dark money” groups. Newly elected Richard Skorman, for instance, says he wants to place a measure on the 2019 city ballot limiting donations from individuals, political action committees (PACs) and corporations to $400 each per candidate.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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Colorado Senate panel votes to reform much-abused campaign law

Dan Njegomir (Colorado Politics)- An oft-criticized feature of Colorado’s campaign-finance law that has been manipulated for years to sling mud and take cheap shots at candidates and political groups is on the verge of reform.

The Colorado Senate’s State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee voted unanimously today to send House Bill 1155 to the full Senate for consideration after no one showed up to testify against the measure, and lawmakers of both parties attested to its need based on their personal experience.

Click here to read the full story in Colorado Politics.

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Lawmakers Consider Reining In Influence of Money in Politics

Eric Galatas (Public News Service)- DENVER – Colorado lawmakers are being asked to shine some light on how so-called dark money influences political campaigns in the state. Four new bills introduced in the House would set limits on campaign spending and require additional disclosures for who’s footing the bill.

Peg Perl, senior counsel for Colorado Ethics Watch, says the measures would help voters cut through the noise of seemingly endless campaign ads by following the money.

Click here to listen to the full story on Public News Service.

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A dark money lawsuit, a colorful cast of characters, and Colorado’s citizen campaign finance cop

Corey Hutchins (Colorado Independent)- It sounds like the beginning of a joke: A former GOP congressman, a Koch-connected talk radio host, a pastor who once conducted an exorcism of Barack Obama’s “demons,” and a journalist-turned-political-consultant-turned-journalist-again walk into a tiny fourth-floor courtroom in downtown Denver.

But no one was laughing last Wednesday morning when former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, KVOR radio host and consultant Jeff Crank and others lined up as witnesses in a state administrative law court. Also on the witness stand were online evangelist and former state lawmaker Gordon Klingenschmitt and Dan Njegomir, a blogger for the recently launched ColoradoPolitics.com website of The Gazette newspaper.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Independent.

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WEISER: So-called ‘Dark money’ is plain free speech

Scott Weiser (Colorado Springs Gazette)- There is a new liberal pejorative for describing what is an essential aspect of our political system: anonymity in political speech. Some candidates for City Council are complaining that they don’t know who are funding political campaigns so they are trying to impugn the messages by using the sinister-sounding “dark money” as a descriptor for anonymous donations that fund political speech.

“People deserve to know who’s spending money to influence their vote,” said Colorado Ethics Watch executive director Luis Toro in the March 26 Gazette. “It helps them understand who benefits from possible policies. And it also helps identify possible conflicts of interest with legislators and City Council members and the industries that are supporting them.”

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

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Sharp elbows, dark money: Is this new normal for Colorado Springs city elections?

Jakob Rodgers, Billie Stanton Anleu (Colorado Springs Gazette)- Dark money, high-dollar campaigns and sharp-elbow politicking are playing an unusually big role in this year’s contests for the City Council, longtime political observers say.

The veiled donations and rough-and-tumble tactics in a few races highlight the stakes in an election that could reshape the priorities of the city’s legislative body.

Six of the council’s nine seats are in play. So come April 4, the City Council could be stacked with candidates more willing to follow the lead of strong Mayor John Suthers.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

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Democratic lawmakers take on dark money in elections communications

Marianne Goodland (Colorado Independent)- Last year, at least four campaign fliers showed up in voters’ mailboxes in the Front Range that didn’t disclose who paid for the mailers.

As The Colorado Independent reported, the mailers, all on behalf of Republican candidates for state House and Senate, contained information the Democratic candidates said was inaccurate. It’s against the law to make knowingly false claims, but there was no way to complain about it because the mailers didn’t identify who paid for them. State law requires a mailer contain a disclaimer saying who paid for it only if it comes from an independent expenditure committee, which cannot directly coordinate with candidates. Mailers, TV and radio and Internet ads that come from candidates and political parties do not have to include a disclaimer.

Click here to read the full story in the Colorado Independent.

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Democrats announce bills to curd the influence of money in politics

Peter Marcus (Colorado Politics)- House Democrats on Wednesday announced a package of legislation aimed at curbing the influence of money in politics.

“It is no secret that there is a lot of cynicism about political entities today and the dark money that is spent on political campaigns,” House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, said at an afternoon news conference at the Capitol. “Last year’s election was one of the worst examples we have seen.”

Click here to read the full story in Colorado Politics.

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Colorado Democrats propose reforms to shed more light on political “dark money”

Brian Eason (Denver Post)- Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran on Wednesday rolled out a series of bills to require that more “dark money” be disclosed under the state’s campaign finance laws, calling it a necessary step to ensure that out-of-state interests can’t “drown out the voice of our people.”

The four bills, all sponsored by Democrats, won’t stop — and probably won’t even slow — the flow of out-of-state money, but they would make it easier, in some cases, to see where the money’s coming from.

Click here to read the full story in the Denver Post.

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