Today I was joined by Rep. Mike Weissman, Rep. Jeff Bridges, and Speaker Crisanta Duran to discuss four bills that will increase transparency and accountability in our elections. Press release after the video.
2017 House Democratic Campaign Finance Reform Legislation
Voters of all political persuasions are tired of the large and growing influence of money in politics, especially when it’s difficult or impossible to tell who is spending that money.
Today House Democratic members are announcing four bills to close loopholes and increase transparency in Colorado campaign finance law.
Closing the Gap in Campaign Finance Reporting by Rep. Jeff Bridges, D- Greenwood Village
Problem: Under current law, “electioneering communications” disclosure captures only mass communications sent 30 days prior to a primary election or 60 days prior to a general election. However, the reality of modern campaigns is that political spending continues all summer. Colorado Ethics Watch estimates that, in 2016, more than $1.9 million fell through the “gap” between the primary election and 60 days before the general.
Solution: Rep. Bridge’s bill will bring additional transparency to Colorado elections by closing that gap. It requires that all spending meant to directly influence voters between the date of the primary election and 60 days prior to the general election be subject to enhanced disclosure. Voters will be able to look up who is spending money to influence their vote throughout the campaign.
Taking Responsibility for Campaign Ads by Rep. Bridges
Problem: Under current law, mass “electioneering communications” are not required to state who is paying for them, leaving voters unable to assess the credibility of these communications, or know who is funding the effort.
Solution: Update Colorado law to require a short and simple disclosure of the “electioneering communication” spender’s identity. This will bring additional transparency to Colorado elections by requiring “paid for by” disclaimers on all electioneering materials.
Eliminating Shadow Committees by Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora
Problem: A recent Colorado Court of Appeals case left open the possibility that a candidate could create an independent expenditure committee to receive unlimited donations.
Solution: Update Colorado law to make clear that candidate-controlled committees are subject to the same contribution limits set forth in the Colorado Constitution and approved by voters by a 2 to 1 margin. This would confirm the common sense understanding that an “independent expenditure committee” could never truly be independent from the candidate running it.
Contribution Limits for County Candidates by Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood
Problem: Our election system should provide a level playing field. Every candidate should have a shot – not just those with wealthy friends – but in county races, we often see contributions of $5,000 and $10,000, and sometimes up to $40,000 from wealthy individuals. Colorado has contribution limits for all state candidates, but there are no limits for county candidates.
Solution: This bill levels the playing field by limiting individual contributions to county candidates to $2,500 per cycle with proportional limits for partnerships, political committees, small donor committees, and political parties. The bill maintains the prohibition on corporate contributions.
See coverage in the Denver Post here.
See coverage in the Grand Junction Sentinel here.
See covered on ColoradoPolitics.com here.