“The people of the state of Colorado hereby find and declare that large campaign contributions to political candidates create the potential for corruption and the appearance of corruption; that large campaign contributions made to influence election ...
Did you know that Colorado campaign finance law allows for millionaires to spend unlimited amounts of their own money on a statewide campaign? And as a non-wealthy person, you must abide strictly by campaign finance law limits, which restricts the amount of money you can raise for your campaign to $1,150 per person?
Does that strike you as creating a level playing field? We don’t think so. We believe that simply allows very wealthy individuals to “buy” their election.
The introductory paragraph of Article XXVIII of our Colorado Constitution states the purpose for our campaign finance laws are to prevent large contributions from corrupting outcomes. It says:
“The people of the state of Colorado hereby find and declare that large campaign contributions to political candidates create the potential for corruption and the appearance of corruption; that large campaign contributions made to influence election outcomes allow wealthy individuals, corporations, and special interest groups to exercise a disproportionate level of influence over the political process; that the rising costs of campaigning for political office prevent qualified citizens from running for political office…”
Perhaps the authors didn’t imagine a time when Colorado millionaires would use a loophole in the law that allows them to spend $15 million or $5 million of their own money in a primary for statewide office, as was the case with Jared Polis and Victor Mitchell this year. Polis has done this repeatedly in running for a state school board seat and for Congress.
The advantage millionaires have over their non-wealthy opponents is staggering. Candidates who don’t have millions to self-fund are limited to raising money from friends and others at $1,150 per person.
Far from having a level playing field, which was the original intent of campaign finance laws, instead we have a very large disparity. That’s not good for Colorado because the “loophole” allows millionaire candidates to become the “special interest” that campaign finance laws were created to stop.
Amendment 75 — or as we like to call it, Stop Buying Our Elections, is very simple: It will amend current campaign finance law to say that “if a candidate contributes $1 million or more of their own money to their campaign, then other candidates in that race may accept aggregate campaign contributions five times greater than the limits specified in current law.”
That’s fair. Wealthy candidates are clearly taking advantage of this loophole and the equitable thing to do is level the playing field for non-wealthy candidates who don’t have the personal financial resources to give their own campaigns millions of dollars. Increasing the limit is an equitable and effective way of encouraging competitive elections where wealthy candidates otherwise attempt to “buy elected office” with their own personal money.
Let’s level the playing field in elections and close the millionaire loophole by voting Yes on Amendment 75. Let’s make sure millionaire’s and billionaire’s Stop Buying Our Elections!
By proponents of the measure:
Greg Brophy is a former state senator and B.J. Nikkel is a former state representative.
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