illo: campaign finance

Between June 25 and Sept. 2, the end of the most recent reporting period, those who will battle it out over 10 of the 11 measures on the November ballot contributed $10.7 million to 28 issue committees.

The biggest dollars are flowing into the campaigns that support gambling, abortion rights and public education.

The biggest contributions since June 25 have gone to Abortion Access for All, which opposes Proposition 115, which seeks to ban terminations of pregnancies after 22 weeks. The committee has raised $3.4 million. Various Planned Parenthood chapters from around the country have kicked in $1.7 million.

Local Choice Colorado comes in second with contributions since June 25 of $2.2 million. The committee backs Amendment 77, which asks voters to approve changes in gaming limits in Central City, Blackhawk and Cripple Creek. Those contributions came from casinos.

A Brighter, Healthier Future for Colorado’s Kids backs Proposition EE, a referred measure from the General Assembly that will increase taxes on tobacco and vaping products. That money would go toward K-12 education, to both counter the revenue losses from COVID-19 and to fund preschool education. The committee has taken in $1.8 million since June 25, with $500,000 each from Gary Community Investments and philanthropist Stacy Schusterman of Tulsa, who owns Samson Energy. Stryker Corporation heir and philanthropist Pat Stryker gave $250,000; Education Reform Now Advocacy, the fundraising arm of Democrats for Education Reform, has contributed $330,000. Boldly Forward Colorado, a nonprofit tied to Gov. Jared Polis, also gave $50,000 in August.

The three committees that support Proposition 115 lag far behind those who oppose it, with just $78,784 in contributions since June 25. That includes a $10,000 contribution, the largest to date, to the Alliance for Life from TABOR author Douglas Bruce.

Five committees are hoping to persuade Coloradans on Proposition 113 on the National Popular Vote; three in favor and two against. The best fundraiser since June 25 has been Yes on National Popular Vote, which took in nearly $800,000, but the group's biggest contributions still come from non-Colorado residents.

Protect Colorado’s Vote, which opposes Proposition 113, has raised $296,843, almost entirely from Colorado residents, since June 25.

Sixteen Thirty Fund, the dark money Washington, D.C., progressive fund, has kicked in the most money since June 25. Their contributions of $663,459 are spread out among the committee opposed to Proposition 115, the anti-abortion question; and committees in favor of National Popular Vote (Proposition 113), paid family and medical leave (Proposition 118) and the tobacco tax (Proposition EE).

Those opposed to the paid leave measure include the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, which gave $10,000 to the long-named committee No on Prop 118: Higher Taxes, More Bureaucracy, a Lavish New Program Destined for Bankruptcy.

That committee also got a $10,000 contribution from Iron Woman Construction & Environmental Services. Those two contributions make up most of what the committee took in between June 25 and Sept. 2. Iron Woman Construction is owned by Shaun Egan, a former lobbyist and Senate staffer to former Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana.

Backing paid leave: Colorado Families First, which took in $548,000 since June 25, most of it from Sixteen Thirty and the union-backed Fairness Project of Washington, D.C.

The effort to either support or oppose Amendment B, to repeal the Gallagher Amendment, is off to a slow start on both sides. The anti-B committee Keep Property Taxes Low has raised just $2,050 since June 25; the pro-B Colorado Coming Together has not yet reported any contributions.

The two tax measures: Proposition 116, which reduces the state income tax, and Proposition 117, on fee-based state enterprises, has drawn support from Americans for Prosperity and the Independence Institute, largely in non-monetary contributions that cover canvassing and other campaign costs. Neither group reports their donors.

A committee to oppose both Propositions 116 and 117 was registered on Sept. 3, Protect Colorado’s Recovery, and has yet to report contributions. Fair Tax Colorado, which also worked to put Initiative 271 on the ballot to change the state's income tax structure, also opposes Propositions 116 and 117. The group reported $166,000 in contributions since June 25 but also refunded more than $373,000 to those who had supported the Fair Tax ballot measure. 

Earthworks Action Fund also opposes Proposition 117 and has raised $23,501 since June 25, largely from its Washington, D.C., headquarters. According to Influence Watch, the organization is funded by a variety of environmental foundations.

Amendment 76 would ask for a one-word change in the Colorado Constitution: from “every” citizen can vote to “only” citizens can vote. To date, there is no opposition committee, and Colorado Citizen Voters has raised only 88 cents in all of 2020 to back the measure.

Those who want to see gray wolves reintroduced in Colorado have been more successful in fundraising than those who oppose Proposition 114. The two committees opposing the measure raised $113,000 since June 25; those who support it have $183,229, with the largest contributions coming from Richard Pritzlaff of Boulder, who runs the Biophilia Foundation, a “biodiversity conservation” group.

Amendment C, a referred measure from the General Assembly that asks voters to OK a reduction in the amount of time a charitable organization has to hold a license for bingo raffles from five years to three years, has no committees registered that either support or oppose the measure.

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