Anti-tax credit group buying costly ads

A political group fighting to eliminate a substantial tax credit for energy companies spent more than $32,000 on advertising during the first two weeks of September, according to recently released financial disclosures.

The group, A Smarter Colorado, is backing Amendment 58, which would kill the tax credit energy companies can claim, canceling out a large portion of the taxes they owe the state on the oil and gas they drill.

The amendment, supported by Gov. Bill Ritter, could bring in an estimated $200 million to $300 million in new revenues every year.

George Merritt, spokesman for the group, said the advertising expenses will help keep the group on the air across Colorado.

The group launched a second wave of ads this week, referencing a government inquiry into improper contact between energy industry officials and the employees of the Lakewood office of the federal Mineral Management Service, which oversees the industry and its activities drilling on federal land.

One of A Smarter Colorado’s donors, Gary-Williams Energy, was one of the companies cited in the federal report.

The political committee working to defeat the amendment, Coloradans for a Stale Economy, did not report any direct ad buys during the first half of September, accord to its campaign finance reports.

The organization did, however, report spending $2,831 on ad production expenses and $55,465 on “outreach consulting.”

Dan Hopkins, spokesman for the group, said “outreach consulting” is “working at the grass-roots level to get our message out.”

“While paid media is important, it is obvious how cluttered the television airwaves are with political ads,” he said in an e-mail.

Hopkins said his side will adopt a wait-and-see approach before opting to buy more airtime in the run-up to Election Day.


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