Coalition raises big bucks in fight against ‘ugly 3’

By Marianne Goodland

This year’s battle over three anti-tax initiatives has pitted Republicans, Democrats and business leaders with lots of money to spend against a small issues committee with very little in the bank. The Goliath in the battle over Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 is Coloradans for Responsible Reform, which is bankrolling the opposition. CFRR, the issues committee put together by the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the business community, has been around off and on since 1994. Its most notable campaign prior to this year was to support Referendum C in 2005.

State campaign finance laws require committees that receive donations of $1,000 or more to report those donations on a major contributor report to the Secretary of State. For CFRR, the list of major contributors just for 2010 now runs eight pages, and includes millions of dollars in donations. The organization has raised nearly $6 million in this election cycle, compared to just over $14,000 for its opponents.

The biggest contribution — $400,000 — came from the National Education Association. The report also shows more than $300,000 in contributions from construction-related businesses, including $25,000 from Saunders Construction.

The campaign’s biggest contributors, as of Sept. 15:
•National Education Association $400,000
•Colorado Health Foundation $175,000
•HealthOne $175,000
•Colorado Realtors Assn $150,000
•Colorado Bankers Assn. $100,000
•Colorado Education Association $100,000
•Liberty Media $100,000
•Wells Fargo Bank $100,000
•Colorado Bar Association $75,000
•MDC Holdings $75,000
•Colorado Concern* $65,000
•Colorado Hospital Assn. $55,000
•Level 3 Communications $50,000
•Sherman & Howard $50,000
•Xcel Energy $50,000
•Vail Resorts $50,000

(*A who’s who of Colorado leaders in business and higher education that promotes economic development)

The issues committee supporting the three ballot measures, Co Tax Reforms, shows $14,313 in contributions as of Sept. 15, with $10,000 of it coming from former Republican state treasurer candidate Muhammad Ali Hasan and his mother Seeme, who runs the foundation that beginning in 2005 paid former Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis $300,000 for what turned out to be plagiarized water essays. (Her husband, Malik Hasan, told The Pueblo Chieftain in a story published Aug. 8 that the money was really intended to cover McInnis’ salary, at $150,000 per year, for two years.)

The Secretary of State’s website also lists four donations to Co Tax Reforms that meet or exceed the $1,000 minimum that requires the committee to file a major contributor report, however, the group has never done so. Bill Tobin of Co Tax Reform said he believed those reports were not due until 30 days after the election, based on guides he received from the Secretary of State’s office.

Major contributions to Co Tax Reform, as of Sept. 15:
•Muhammad Ali Hasan $5,000
•Seeme Hasan $5,000
•Coleen & William Robinson $2,760
(non-monetary contribution for office space)
•G. E. S. Tech Group, Calhan, CO $1,000