Front Range group working to re-elect Buescher

The Colorado Citizens’ Coalition, a liberal Front Range group, has pumped more than $19,000 into a ground operation aimed at helping re-elect state Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, according to the group’s financial disclosures.

The documents, filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, show that since the political group started work in June, the Colorado Citizens’ Coalition has hired at least 17 people to canvass Mesa County.

Todd Wilson, director of the coalition, said his organization is working to place “the spotlight on common-sense leaders in Colorado.”

Wilson declined to comment specifically on the “one leader” in Grand Junction his group is working to re-elect, but the group’s financial disclosures detail spending on behalf of Buescher.

Wilson declined to characterize the group as “progressive,” but a help-wanted ad the group placed online said Colorado Citizens’ Coalition is “a nonpartisan, voter education project that is working towards a progressive state legislature.”

A second help-wanted ad, posted on SquareState.net, a left-leaning blog, advertised that the coalition specializes in door-to-door canvassing “to educate voters about common sense leaders in their community.”

Micah Dancy, a Mesa resident who canvassed for the coalition in late August and early September, said the volunteers canvassed neighborhoods throughout the county in support of Buescher.

“We had been canvassing for him and leaving people with some brochures and getting them to sign up for a mail-in ballot,” Dancy said.

Buescher said he was aware that a group was canvassing in his district, but said he has had no contact with them.

The Colorado Citizens’ Coalition’s financial disclosures show the group is primarily supported by unions, left-leaning political groups and three wealthy political operatives, Pat Stryker, Tim Gill and Rutt Bridges.

The three millionaires, according to the disclosures, have given the coalition $422,500 since mid-June.

Buescher’s race, according to a July 17 expenditure report filed with the state, is one of 17 races the coalition is involved in. Its involvement in Buescher’s race against Collbran Republican Laura Bradford extends beyond its on-the-ground operation.

The organization funneled $195,000 in August to Colorado Values, a political committee that has sent unaffiliated voters at least two mass mailings praising Buescher’s work at the Capitol. Those contributions accounted for nearly 41 percent of Colorado Values’ nearly $477,000 worth of contributions since registering with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office in August.

State Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, said he was not surprised to hear that liberal activists were working below the radar in Mesa County with the support of Gill, Stryker and Bridges.

“The three of them have helped buy the General Assembly for Democrats,” Penry said. “They’ve put millions and millions of dollars into legislative races across the state. In many ways Gill and Stryker in particular are the two most powerful people in Colorado politics.”

Penry said conservatives have been working locally and across the state to counteract the work of the Colorado Citizens’ Coalition and its peer organizations through their own outside political committees.


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