Bills aim for transparency in campaign funding

DENVER — House Democrats want to do something about the influence of money in elections.

Led by House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, three freshmen Democrats introduced four bills Wednesday designed either to limit money in certain races, or to require more disclosure of contributions raised.

The three — Jeff Bridges of Denver, Michael Weissman of Aurora and Chris Kennedy of Lakewood — said that voters are tired of seeing so much money pour into elections and not knowing its source.

“What we’re doing is taking the spirit of the law that has been voted on by the people and making it even stronger, making sure folks actually comply with what we think is the spirit of this,” Bridges said. “We know that campaigns last much longer than just 60 days. We want to make sure that if people are trying to influence elections in Colorado, we know what you’re doing, who you are and where your money comes from.”

Under current law, statewide elected officials from the governor to the Legislature have strict limits on the amount of money they can accept from individual donors: $1,150 for governor and $400 for legislators for primary and general elections, combined.

But county races for such seats as commissioner, clerk or treasurer have no such limits.

One measure, HB1260, would place a $2,500 individual contribution limit on those races.

Under current law, all campaigns have a more frequent requirement for reporting contributions within 60 days of a general election and 30 days before a primary.

Another measure, HB1262, would expand that reporting frequency rate between the June primaries all the way through to the November general elections.

Under the law, third-party groups paying for campaign advertising for specific candidates are allowed to remain anonymous. A third measure, HB1261, would reverse that.

Finally, current law also allows independent expenditure committees to act like superPACs, being able to collect unlimited amounts of money. HB1259 would place the same campaign contribution limits that would apply to whatever race they are involved with, from governor to legislator.

“It is no secret that there is a lot of cynicism about political institutions today, and the dark money that is spent on political campaigns,” Duran said. “While it’s clear that we need campaign finance reform at the national level, there are real concrete steps that we can take here in Colorado to protect the integrity of our elections, and to ensure that special interests from outside the state are not allowed to drown out the voice of our people.”

No Republican has signed onto the bills, but the three freshmen lawmakers hope to convince some to do so.


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