GREELEY — Greeley Democrat Rochelle Galindo continues to have troubles with her campaign for House District 50.
The 28-year-old, who is on her third campaign manager after allegations of abusive behavior toward staff, appears to have been campaigning for House District 50 before she ever won her seat on the Greeley City Council, and an Independent Expenditure Committee pumping tens of thousands of dollars into her campaign has ties to political heavy weight billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer, despite her public promises to “stand up to special interests.”
Campaign finance reports from Galindo’s 2015 city council race appear to support concerns from Democrats who voted for her primary opponent, Jim Riesberg, that she doesn’t finish what she starts, and the list of donors contradicts her platform and statements she and others supporting her have made in public.
Galindo did not return emails from Complete Colorado for comment.
A door hanger sponsored directly from Galindo’s campaign being circulated across her district says she will give constituents a voice in their government, hold government accountable, and “stand up to powerful special interests.”
Yet her own finance reports show more than $30,000 in donations from unions, Political Action Committees (PAC) and other groups, such as Emily’s List, a Washington DC-based PAC that supports only pro-choice candidates.
In fact, of the $81,000 in funds Galindo has raised though the last reporting period, more than $30,000 or nearly 40 percent is from special interest groups, and nearly 80 percent ($64,000) is from donors outside of Weld County.
Even three years ago, during her unopposed run for Greeley City Council, Galindo accepted contributions from out of city and out of state Political Action Committees.
Comparatively, her opponent Michael Thuener has raised $23,000 in total funds, with 42 percent ($9,700) coming from special interests, but just 36 percent of his total funds are from outside Weld County.
Denver-based Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC), “Our Colorado Values” has spent nearly $60,000 on mailers and digital advertising in support of Galindo.
Slightly more than $9,300 of that money went to mailers accusing Thuener of having “radical plans to cut public schools.”
Thuener, who does support school choice, said he has never supported vouchers, and he has never laid out any plans to cut public schools.
“Education funding should be a priority and it will be with me. But Colorado is a very diverse state and each community has their own educational focuses. I want to work with my fellow legislators in finding a fix for the limitations that have been seen by our local school districts by the interaction of the Gallagher Amendment and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights,” Thuener said.
He added that public schools are not a good fit for all families, so he supports school choice and private education, but he does not support vouchers.
“While there are great private scholarship opportunities throughout the state such as the Alliance for CHOICE in Education (ACE) Scholarships, I think we can do more. I would like to explore the options of making educational expenses a tax deduction,” Thuener said. “I think we can come up with ways, as stated before, that do not harm the public education budget, but gives parents the choice in the best education for their children.”
During the 2017 Greeley City Council race, Galindo denounced the IEC “Greeley for a Stronger Economy,” which pumped thousands of dollars into that race, saying:
“This group is spending (thousands of dollars) on attack ads …” Galindo told the Greeley Tribune. “In actuality, it’s a Denver-based group trying to influence our municipal election. I just find irony in that.”
As an IEC “Our Colorado Values” is not allowed to coordinate with Galindo, but Galindo won’t address the mailings attacking her opponent or the mailers declaring she is “Standing up to Corporate Lobbyists,” despite campaign finance reports for “Our Colorado Values” that show contributors to the group include large corporations such as AT&T, DISH Network, Novartis (a Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company), Recurrent Energy (a solar energy developer), General Motors and PepsiCo, to name a few.
Additionally, the registered agent for “Our Colorado Values,” Ashley Stevens, who was an aide to former Colorado Senator Mark Udall, also has ties to billionaire funders of left-leaning causes George Soros and Tom Steyer.
WHICH RACE DID SHE RUN?
When Galindo was first elected to Greeley City Council after running unopposed in 2015, she was a relatively unknown progressive, who’s previous political experience was working locally on Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. She also worked on current HD 50 Rep. Dave Young’s last re-election campaign. Young was term limited this year.
She was a 2013 product of Emerge Colorado, a subsidiary of a national movement by Democrats to train women how to run for public office. The training includes fundraising, public speaking, networking, “labor and endorsements,” among other things.
That training played out in her Greeley City Council campaign finance reports, which looked like a who’s who of Colorado politics. Nearly 35 percent of her funding came from outside Weld County, and included former Colorado Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, and former and current house and senate democrats such as Alec Garnett, Polly Baca, Elizabeth McCann, Paul Rosenthal, Joe Salazar, Jonathan Singer, Angela Williams, Young and more.
By design, Emerge got her on city council in preparation for the HD 50 race, but Linda Klipp, an unaffiliated voter in House District 50, said she’s not looking to elect someone to office that went through training on how to become a career politician.
“They are missing the whole point,” Klipp said. “I want someone who is going to listen who cares about the things that are important to me and my family. Career politicians become focused on becoming career politicians, and if you ever had it, you lose the intent that the voters had when they elected you. Their goal is to just be a politician.”
Klipp, who was a lifelong Democrat and educator until she changed her affiliation a few years ago, said she takes very seriously her ability to vote and who she votes for.
“That’s why I like Michael,” Klipp said. “He walks the neighborhoods. He knocks on doors. He listens to people. He answers the tough questions. He’s honest.”
She is also turned off by the negative tactics coming from of the Galindo supporters.
“I’m appalled at the mailers,” she said. “I’ve listened to Michael talk about schools, and I understand that he thinks parents should have a choice, but he did not say what is on that mailer. Then I get his mailer, and it talks about his family and his background and asks me to vote for him. Nothing negative. I don’t like the negative stuff. I want to know the substance of who I’m electing, and I want to know if elected they are going to do the job I elected them to do.”
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