Tag Archives: Policy

Denver proposal aims to force disclosure of independent spending as “dark money” trickles down

Companies, groups and other big spenders who work to support or defeat candidates and ballot measures in Denver’s local elections increasingly are operating in the shadows, city officials and good-government advocates say.

Less than two years before the next municipal election, a Denver City Council proposal seeks to close transparency gaps that allow such spending to go unreported as long as the people behind it don’t coordinate directly with a candidate’s campaign.

Such activity by super PAC-style groups has mushroomed in federal and state elections since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 took the handcuffs off independent spending by corporations and labor unions, making restrictions on them unconstitutional.

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

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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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Significant funding gap in Colorado fracking fight

Jacy Marmaduke (The Coloradoan)- Committees fighting proposed Colorado ballot measures that would limit fracking have raked in about $15 million in donations this year, more than 35 times the contributions of groups backing the measures.

About 90 percent of the anti-ballot measure donations have come from energy companies, including $10.5 million from Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Noble Energy alone.

Click here to read the full story in The Coloradoan.

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Councilman says he will start drafting changes to Denver Code of Ethics

Jon Murray (Denver Post)- Nearly two years after the Denver Board of Ethics started discussing changes to beef up conduct rules for the city’s elected officials and municipal employees, a city councilman says he plans to start drafting a proposal.

Councilman Kevin Flynn, who is in his first term, said his bill, to be filed in coming weeks or months, would incorporate the consensus from a Code of Ethics working group that has met for about six months. That group has included outgoing City Attorney Scott Martinez, who had questioned some of the ethics board’s proposals.

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

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Five ways to improve government transparency in Colorado

John Frank (Denver Post)- John Reynolds died in police custody in Olathe after the 25-year-old stabbed himself with a letter opener and an officer Tased him multiple times before handcuffing him.

Colorado State University awarded 124 employees pay hikes that topped 10 percent even though roughly half their employees received raises closer to 2 percent.

Rocky Mountain Human Services, a Denver nonprofit that serves people with disabilities, misspent millions of dollars and provided employees annual Costco memberships for personal use.

And Adams County paid a $250,000 combined severance to three former district attorney’s office employees after they resigned.

In all four situations, Colorado officials initially hid the details from the public — abetted by inadequate state laws regarding government transparency.

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

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Lawmakers fail to reform Colorado’s Ethics Commission

Marianne Goodland (Colorado Independent)- The Republican-controlled Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee shot down a bill Monday that would have begun to reform Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission.

The bill was supported by the state’s Republican Attorney General and Secretary of State.

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

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“I’m a public servant, and I’m not a public slave.” Colorado DA defends 6 1/2 weeks vacation

Katy Canada (Denver Post)- Colorado’s 5th Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown took more than 6½ weeks off work in 2015, an amount far greater than that taken by his senior attorneys and some of his peers.

Brown, elected in 2013 and seeking re-election this year, said the rules spelled out in the district’s time-off policy don’t apply to him because he’s an elected official. He also said he isn’t required to keep track of how many vacation days he takes.

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


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Groups may take aim at Denver campaign finance, ethics rules

Jon Murray (Denver Post)- Colorado Common Cause and several other local groups say they soon may unveil a proposed ballot initiative aimed at reining in campaign contribution limits and creating a public financing system for Denver city elections.

“We’re at a historic point now in terms of both low faith in government and its accessibility to regular people,” says Peg Perl, senior counsel to Colorado Ethics Watch, which is among the groups working on the potential measure for city voters in November. Add to that the flood of money in last year’s municipal elections, when Mayor Michael Hancock raised more than $1.3 million and total contributions to city candidates surpassed $4 million, and Perl says the result for many voters is disillusionment.

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

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KC Becker: Two steps toward campaign finance reform

KC Becker (Boulder Daily Camera)- Another presidential election season is upon us, delivering a million reminders of the influence of money in politics. No matter which candidates you support, I think you’ll agree that our political process is warped when elections can be bought by candidates who may not win the contest of ideas but happen to have the biggest super PACS, the friendliest 527s or the deepest pockets.

I’m sponsoring two measures in the Colorado legislature that will begin to help us see through the murk. One bill, which the House approved unanimously last week and is headed to the Senate, puts school board elections on the same campaign finance disclosure schedule as other Colorado elections. Another bill requires disclosure of contributions of ads touting political parties. Currently, the ads fall through the cracks of reporting requirements because they may not mention a particular candidate.

Click here to read the full story in the Boulder Daily Camera.

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Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission resists reform

Marianne Goodland (The Colorado Independent)- A bill to reform Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission outraged its Chair Bill Leone, who led the commission in taking a hard line on the measure that would create policies to address conflicts of interest between commissioners and the officials the body holds accountable.

The commission’s move to resist new regulations comes in the wake of a scathing review of its work by the state auditor. Leone said the audit “stung.”

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

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