Amendment 65: Colorado's push for campaign-finance limits wins in landslide

Categories: News, Politics

While the state's marijuana amendment is getting a lot of national attention, supporters hope 65 will have an influence federally. And it's a particularly relevant measure in Colorado, given the extreme amount of spending that hit this swing state. Based on the latest data available from the Washington Post's tracker, a whopping $71 million was spent on television advertisements in the state for the presidential race.

Mitt Romney final CO rally.jpeg
Photo by Brandon Marshall
Mitt Romney at his final Colorado rally.
A recent CoPIRG report found that outside spending organizations reported $1.11 billion in spending through the final 2012 cycle deadline -- already a 200 percent increase over total 2008 outside spending.

To understand the magnitude of this influence, the report points out that the spending of large donors has effectively wiped out the impact of small donors in fundraising. The two presidential campaigns combined have reported raising $394.4 million from small donors who gave less than $200 apiece, accounting for at least 1,972,000 individuals. But just 629 so-called "mega-donors" contributed $100,000 or more each, adding up to $393.4 million in super PAC donations.

"That really shows that there's a problem," Katz says. "It certainly drowns out the voice of small donors."

Meaningful reforms could be a long ways off. Even if the Colorado delegation were to bring forward a federal amendment, there would have to be a great deal of support nationwide to lead to it being adopted. Additionally, even if such a proposal passed, it wouldn't actually set campaign finance limitations nationally. Rather, it would open up the door for states to legislate their own regulations, which they currently cannot do.

Barack Obama final Colorado rally.jpeg
Photo by Brandon Marshall
Barack Obama at his final Colorado rally.
Nine other states have passed similar measures in various forms, Katz says, noting that hundreds of cities have also passed symbolic resolutions of support as well.

"We hope that this Colorado measure acts as a catalyst," he says. "For the first time, it really shows that it doesn't matter where you come from.... This is a problem."

He adds, "As an organization that is constantly lobbying our elected officials...one of the things that we're always asked is, 'Well, what do my constituents think?'" he says. "Talk about a powerful way to demonstrate to these elected officials what their constituents think.... They want to see action.... The next step is holding them accountable."

More from our Politics archive: "Scott Gessler: Officials probably didn't catch all fraudulent voters before election"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.


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7 comments
Shannon Fender
Shannon Fender

Uhhh, yes. Is this a serious question or do people actually agree that money is speech?

Lisa Ross
Lisa Ross

There is no question that it does.

Natasha Schwertley
Natasha Schwertley

Yes, no foreign influence in US elections! And the results should be based on one person, one vote, not one dollar one vote.

Beavis
Beavis

Forget campaign-finance limits, the better solution is to go to exclusively public financing.

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