Voters resoundingly reject proposed campaign-funding Amendment 75
Colorado voters have overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment that could have helped those running against wealthy candidates.
According to the Colorado secretary of state, Amendment 75 was soundly defeated statewide, with 66 percent of voters opposed and 34 percent in favor. Moffat County voters rejected the measure 3,853 to 1,252, a margin of 75 percent to 25 percent.
Depending on whom is asked, Amendment 75 was either a matter of fairness or a way to allow still more money into state elections.
The amendment was an attempt to cut the campaign spending advantage held by wealthy candidates. If a candidate put more than $1 million of his or her own money into a campaign, individual contributors to other candidates for the same seat would be able to put five times the current limit of $1,150 toward those candidates.
Former State Sen. Greg Brophy, a Republican from the eastern Colorado town of Wray, was one of Amendment 75’s backers. In an October interview, Brophy said the amendment was an attempt to level the playing field.
That field was particularly tilted in this year’s gubernatorial race.
Governor-elect Jared Polis, a Democrat, as of September, had put $18.3 million of his own money into his campaign. Republican Walker Stapleton, as of August, had raised about $2.4 million, about $1 million of which came from Stapleton’s own pocket.
As of the most recent reporting period, Polis’ campaign had spent about $22.7 million. By comparison, the Stapleton campaign had spent about $3.7 million.
Brophy said it’s simply impossible to be outspent by that margin and remain competitive in a statewide race.
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 in October that group opposed Amendment 75, saying it would put still more money into campaigns. The goal, she said, is less-expensive political campaigns.
But, Fry added, there are no easy answers to the Amendment 27 loophole, which allows wealthy candidates to self-fund their campaigns. She noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that limits on self-funding are unconstitutional.