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In The News

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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On internet privacy, Coffman breaks with congressional Republicans

John Tomasic (The Colorado Statesman)- Colorado 6th District U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman broke with his Republican caucus colleagues this week to vote against a bill that would allow internet companies to sell user data, including user browsing histories.

“I believe the privacy of my constituents, and other internet users, is an issue where the government needs to tread very carefully,” he was quoted in a statement. “I do not believe we should permit private corporations to take advantage of our information for their use and profit. The right to privacy is embedded in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and as a person who tries to honor our Constitution, I chose to oppose the resolution as a reaffirmation in my belief in our founding document.”

Click here to read the full story in The Colorado Statesman.

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Nor’wood negoatiates to buy government land southwest of downtown

Pam Zubeck (Colorado Springs Independent)- If at first you don’t succeed, work out a new deal and continue moving forward.

That might be an apt description of Nor’wood Development Group’s efforts to gain control of land located in the Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal Area owned by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

After an agreement with RBD collapsed last fall due to conflict of interest questions and legal requirements, Nor’wood persuaded the Regional Building board, composed of elected officials, to simply sell the property to Nor’wood without placing it on the open market.

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

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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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Colorado public records mediation bill gets a new trial with big amendments

Joey Bunch (Colorado Springs Gazette)- My friend and former coworker Jeffrey Roberts says legislation to help people seeking public records avoid a courtroom to get them is getting a retrial.

On the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition blog, Roberts said House Bill 1177 was reworked to create a cooling off period, a meeting between the record requester and its custodian and shared cost for mediation, which is about $75 an hour.

The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee passed the legislation 9-0 Thursday and moves next to the House floor.

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

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