Amendment 75 aims to close loophole in Colorado’s campaign finance law
Amendment 75: Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution providing that if any candidate in a primary or general election for state office directs more than one million dollars in support of his or her own election, then every candidate for that office in the same election may accept five times the amount of campaign contributions normally allowed?
Editor’s note: The following is the first in a series of articles detailing the various ballot issues facing voters in the 2018 General Election.
EAGLE COUNTY — Depending on who you ask, this fall’s Amendment 75 is either a matter of fairness or a way to allow still more money into state elections.
In short, the amendment attempts to cut the campaign spending advantage held by wealthy candidates. If a candidate puts more than $1 million of his or her own money into a campaign, then individual contributors to other candidates for the same seat would be able to put five times the current limit — $1,150 — toward those candidates.
Former State Senator Greg Brophy, a Republican from the Eastern Colorado town of Wray, is one of the lead backers of Amendment 75. He said the amendment is an attempt to level the playing field between candidates for office.
Brophy, a farmer as well as a political consultant, noted that Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell put more than $3 million into an unsuccessful primary campaign.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis put roughly $11 million of his own money into his primary campaign. In total, he’s put $18.3 million of his own money into the campaign.
His Republican opponent, Walker Stapleton, as of August had raised about $2.4 million. About $1 million came from Stapleton.
Brophy said it’s simply impossible to be outspent by that margin and remain competitive in a statewide race.
“If someone’s willing to spend $20 or $30 million, you can’t compete with $5 or $6 million,” Brophy said.
No easy answers
The current limits, along with the self-funding exemption, stem from Amendment 27, a 2002 amendment championed by Common Cause Colorado. That amendment passed with more than 65 percent of the vote.
Common Cause Colorado Outreach Director Caroline Fry said that group opposes Amendment 75 because it will put still more money into campaigns. The goal, she said, is less-expensive political campaigns.
“Americans have expressed time and time again they want a reduction of money in politics,” Fry said, adding that Amendment 75 “isn’t going to fix anything.”
But, Fry added, there are no easy answers to the Amendment 27 loophole allowing wealthy candidates to self-fund their campaigns. She noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled — more than once — that limits on self-funding are unconstitutional.
“Until we change that, there’s no one magic bullet,” Fry said.
Contact Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.
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