DENVER – Democratic lawmakers are trying to increase the transparency and equity of the system for financing political campaigns with four bills that were introduced Wednesday at the state Legislature.
The bills would change the system by doing such things as limit contributions from individuals to county-level candidates, require all campaign advertisements to list who paid for the distribution, increase voter access to information about who is spending money to influence election results, and close a loophole that allows candidates to circumvent contribution limits for state elections.
The bills are sponsored by three freshman representatives coming off their first campaigns.
“All of us are fresh off open seat races, and we know better than most just how broken our Colorado campaign finance system is,” said Rep. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village.
The bills are not only a response to what has occurred on a state level, but also in national elections.
“It is no secret that there is a lot of cynicism about political institutions today, and the dark money that is spent on political campaigns,” Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, told the media.
Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, said he is sponsoring a bill that would limit contributions for county campaigns to $2,500 to ensure that the wealthy, or candidates with connections to the wealthy, aren’t the only ones who can afford to run for local offices.
“That’s not the way it should be, and we need to be able to level the playing field so all candidates who are competing to run for office have to go through the same thing the three of us did: make the connection to the community, do the hard work and building support and raising the contributions you need to fund a campaign,” Kennedy said.
Representatives from two public interests groups also spoke in support of the bills.
Elizabeth Steele, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, said the bills were a step towards modernizing Colorado’s campaign financing laws, which should be a priority for all lawmakers.
“Campaign finance reform is not a partisan issue,” Steele said.
But as of Wednesday, none of the bills have Republican support, which will be required if they are to make it through the state Senate, where the GOP holds an 18-17 majority.