2018 Election, Elections, Featured, Governor Polis, Governor's Race 2018, Sherrie Peif

Out of state “dark money” fueled Colorado’s 2018 election; AG Weiser among beneficiaries despite transparency pledge

DENVER — A Washington D.C. based non-profit that pumped millions of dollars nationwide into the 2018 elections, spent heavily in Colorado on progressive issues and Democrat candidates, including Attorney General Phil Weiser, Colorado Secretary of State filings show.

According to a recent report by Politico, the Sixteen Thirty Fund spent $141 million nationwide on more than 100 issues, supporting such things as “fighting Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and other Trump judicial nominees to boosting ballot measures raising the minimum wage and changing laws on voting and redistricting in numerous states.”

Colorado was not exempt from that spending. In fact, the 501(c)(4), spent nearly $11 million on everything from redistricting changes to the state constitution, wage increase propositions, payday loan regulations, conservation issues, opposing Amendment 74 — which would have compensated property owners if government regulations resulted in lowering their property values — and supporting Democrat candidates running for state offices.

Sixteen Thirty Fund spending in Colorado was initially reported by the Colorado Sun, including its connection to Gov. Jared Polis’ race, with more than $900,000 going to Good Jobs Colorado, which supported Polis.

Phil Weiser

However, Sixteen Thirty Fund’s connection to Weiser, whose campaign benefited from $600,000 in donations to Justice Colorado, as well as many candidates supported by Our Colorado Values, went unnoticed until now.

Our Colorado Values spent $3.3 million statewide supporting myriad candidates including former House District 50 Rep. Rochelle Galindo, who resigned amid sexual assault allegations and is currently awaiting trial for supplying drugs and alcohol to a minor.

Justice Colorado spent $2.347 million entirely on supporting Weiser and opposing his opponent, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler.

The spending conflicts with one of the main platforms Weiser ran his campaign on —eliminating the ability of nonprofits to donate without disclosing its donors. In fact, Weiser took it one step further, making promises to denounce anyone spending money on his campaign that was not transparent.

“As a candidate, I will call on any group spending money on my behalf to disclose their donors, so Colorado voters know who is seeking to influence them,” Weiser wrote in a blog on his campaign website.

501(c)(4) organizations are not required to report their donors on their IRS filings as other non-profits are because they are not tax-exempt. Those supporting them are not allowed tax deductions for their contributions.

Weiser also doubled-down on the practice calling out the Republican Attorneys General Association for its spending on Brauchler.

 “I am proud to run a transparent and people-powered campaign. … Together, we will overcome the corrosive influence of dark money that is eroding confidence in our elections, sowing distrust in our institutions, and undermining good governance,” Weiser said during the campaign.

Complete Colorado inquired as to whether Weiser ever called on Justice Colorado or the Sixteen Thirty Fund to disclose the latter’s donors.

Lawrence Pacheco, Director of Communications for Weiser’s office responded, “Since this is a campaign-related matter, you would need to submit this question to the Attorney General’s campaign media inbox,”

Complete Colorado had not heard back from the campaign as of press time.

All totaled, Sixteen Thirty Fund played a key role in donating to:

  • Coloradans to Stop Predatory Payday Loans — $2,075,000
  • Justice Colorado — $600,000
  • Save our Neighborhoods — $3.5 million
  • Coloradans Creating Opportunities — $545,000
  • Fair Maps Colorado — $68,000
  • Coloradans for Fairness — $2.5 million
  • Our Colorado Values — $500,000
  • Good Jobs Colorado — $920,000
  • Working People of Colorado — $75,000

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