Hickenlooper dwarfs rivals in fundraising reports

CFRR's $6.7 million far exceeds Bruce's group

By Marianne Goodland
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

With the last bi-weekly campaign finance reports filed before the Nov. 2 election, Democratic mayor and gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper holds an insurmountable lead in fundraising, but his chief rival had his most successful fundraising day ever on Oct. 21.

Hickenlooper has now raised $3,572,585 through Oct. 13 and at least $90,773 in major contributions (those of $1,000 or more) since that date. While Tancredo has little chance of catching up to Hickenlooper on total fundraising, a one-day “money bomb” on Oct. 21 was his best day ever, though falling short of where he hoped it would be.

Tancredo, who announced that day he wanted to raise $200,000 for a Road to Victory Money Bomb, raised $144,903. Through Oct. 13, he had raised a total of $680,359, plus $3,318 in non-monetary contributions. After Oct. 13, the Tancredo campaign reported returning $3,551 in contributions, ranging from $10 to $525, mostly to people who had exceeded the contribution limit. The campaign also took in $2,000 in major contributions between Oct. 13 and the Oct. 21 money bomb.

The Oct. 18 campaign finance report showed Republican Dan Maes has raised a total of $303,705 plus $16,512 in non-monetary contributions. From Oct. 13 to press time, the campaign has reported no major contributions.

Of note in the Maes campaign reports is one of the largest expenses in the 2010 campaign: payments to himself and his daughter. Through Oct. 13, the campaign reported paying Maes $71,473 for a host of expenses, and $13,987 to Jordan, primarily for employee and consultant services. The largest expense for the campaign has been for advertising: $112,729.

The Oct. 18 deadline also marked the first time in three months that campaign finance reports were filed by the proponents and opponents of Amendment 62. According to the Secretary of State’s office, they are filing on the wrong filing schedule. The most recent filing submitted by both committees was for the period of July 1 through Sept. 30 and filed last week.

Personhood Colorado, the pro-62 group, reported just over $42,000 in cash in the last three months plus another $17,072 in non-cash contributions. Notable among their contributions is $1,000 from Joe Coors, Jr.

The “No on 62” committee listed $437,510 in contributions during the last three months. More than half of that, $225,000, came from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. The organization also loaned the committee $100,000.

The committees reporting both the largest and smallest total campaign contributions are for those on opposite sides of the same ballot measures: Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101.

Coloradans for Responsible Reform (CFRR) continues to show the biggest financial support during this election season for an issues committee.

The Oct. 18 filing shows the committee has raised more than $6.7 million. Their last campaign finance report before the election shows they raised more than $379,000 in the last reporting period, all but $3,000 of it in cash. The biggest donors in this cycle were the Colorado Association of Realtors, who kicked in $150,000; Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association of New York, which gave $100,000; and the Southeast Business Partnership gave $25,000, bringing their total to $125,000. Benson Mineral Group, owned by CU President Bruce Benson, gave $25,000 and marks the first political contribution given by Benson Minerals since 2006. Benson became CU president in 2008 and at the time of his hiring told CU faculty that “we’re out of politics, end of story,” referring to himself and his wife, Marcy.

The committee officially supporting the anti-tax amendments, CO Tax Reforms, shows a total of $17,463 raised this year, plus $15,037 in non-monetary contributions. During the most recent reporting cycle, the group raised just $25 and has on hand $11,394 for the last two weeks of the election season.

However, it’s unlikely that backers of the anti-tax initiatives are relying much on the committee to get out the word: it was revealed last week through a deposition given by Douglas Bruce that his foundation, Active Citizens Together, put $100,000 to $200,000 into the petition drive for the three measures. The group was founded by Bruce but changed its registered agent in August to Doug Campbell, former chairman of the American Constitution Party and a longtime Bruce associate. CFRR has referred to Bruce as the “spiritual leader” for the anti-tax measures. And on his Facebook page last Saturday, Andrew Hudson said he spotted Bruce stopping along Speer Boulevard in the Cherry Creek Mall area, placing pro-amendment signs on the public right-of-way.

Bill Ray, policy director for CFRR, has now filed a campaign finance complaint against ACT, alleging Bruce had spent between $100,000 and $200,000 to put the petitions onto the November ballot. The complaint indicated Bruce used the initiatives’ designated sponsors (Louis Schroeder, Jeffrey Gross and Russell Haas) as front men, apparently to cloak Bruce’s involvement. Bruce has repeatedly denied that he had anything to do with the measures, but in a deposition related to a previous complaint and according to a press release from CFRR, Bruce admitted ACT had paid $100,000 to $200,000 to a “professional signature gathering firm for the petition drive that resulted” in the three measures getting onto the ballot. According to a CFRR press release, ACT has continued to fund campaign activities as recently as this month, when a mailing supporting the measures went to an unknown number of homes in Colorado.

ACT was registered as a 501(c)(3) in 2001, with Bruce as its registered agent. Campbell took over those duties in an Aug. 18, 2010 filing. The group’s purpose is listed as educating citizens on “their civic rights and duties” pertaining to their roles as “voters, jurors, petitioners, taxpayers property owners, gun owners, business owners, etc.” ACT would mail its donors a quarter newsletter, and “show citizens how to organize to accomplish some public policy reforms they wish to achieve.”

ACT has never filed as an issues committee nor reported donations, which is why it is now the subject of the campaign finance complaint.

The complaints filed by CFRR seeks $50 per day in fines for every day campaign finance reports for ACT were not filed; according to the complaint, ACT should have been filing those reports beginning May 3.

That’s on top of more than $30,000 in fines already levied to three individuals associated with the measures.

Those fines grew out of an administrative law judge ruling in June that Bruce was the “Mr. X” behind the three initiatives. The fines were levied against Gross, Haas and Schroeder, initially at $2,000 each. Because the trio failed to seek a stay of those fines, they now total more than $30,000, according to Secretary of State Bernie Buescher.

The original complaint was filed in January by Kim Haarberg, a former president of the Colorado Contractors Association, a member of the CFRR coalition.

For the groups working to pass or oppose Proposition 102, their campaign finance reports reveal little activity. Pro-102 Safe Streets Colorado, which is now the subject of campaign finance complaints for its jumbled books, reports raising a total of $6,965, spending $6,366, but the most recent report showed the committee had cash on hand of $4,799. Those additional funds are not accounted for in its campaign finance filings; however, Robert Trucker, a spokesman for the committee, sent The Colorado Statesman an amended report that showed the additional money, contributions of $5,500 in September, came from its proponents, Matthew Duran and Michael Paul Donavan, who have both worked on similar efforts in Virginia. Donavan is the government affairs director for Bail USA of Greenville, Pa., a bail-bonds company with locations in 42 states.

Safe Streets Colorado filed as an issues committee Aug. 26, but has already been hit with five delinquency fines from the Secretary of State’s office for failing to file campaign finance reports. The fines now total $950 ($50 for each day the reports were late). The committee has requested waivers for those fines. The committee is also the subject of a campaign finance complaint from Colorado Ethics Watch, which alleged the group should have filed as an issues committee as early as May 13, when the group announced its support for the initiative that later became Proposition 102. The group blames its filing problems on the Secretary of State’s office.

The opponents of Proposition 102, Citizens to Protect Colorado Communities, has raised $126 in cash and $73 in non-monetary contributions, and it has spent $97; however, the group’s campaign finance reports don’t show where the cash came from. Safe Streets Colorado has complained that its opponents should also be subject to campaign finance complaints because its backer, The Pretrial Justice Institute, did not file for an issues committee until September. But according to the Secretary of State’s office, a group does not have to file as an issues committee until it has collected or spent $200 — and the anti-102 committee has so far reported collecting $199.99. In addition, PJI, which employs the group’s spokesperson, Stefanie Clarke, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) whose main purpose is as a national advocate for “fair and effective pretrial practices” and provides technical assistance and training for pretrial services. A 501(c)(3) does not have to file as an issues committee in Colorado.

Finally, some notable names have popped up on the last batch of finance reports. Karl Rove put $200 into the campaign of Senate District 11 Republican candidate Owen Hill this month. And Jonathan Soros, son of Democratic donor George and an executive with Soros Fund Management, has put $42,600 into several Democratic 527 groups working to keep control of the Colorado House and Senate. The largest, a donation of $30,425, showed up in the reports this month for The Neighborhood Project.

Marianne@coloradostatesman.com