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Lawmakers Consider Reining In Influence of Money in Politics

Four new bills could help Colorado voters cut through the noise of campaign ads by following the money. (Pixabay)
Four new bills could help Colorado voters cut through the noise of campaign ads by following the money. (Pixabay)
April 11, 2017

DENVER – Colorado lawmakers are being asked to shine some light on how so-called dark money influences political campaigns in the state. Four new bills introduced in the House would set limits on campaign spending and require additional disclosures for who's footing the bill.

Peg Perl, senior counsel for Colorado Ethics Watch, says the measures would help voters cut through the noise of seemingly endless campaign ads by following the money.

"So that voters have some sort of information to evaluate what's the noise and what's the real information about candidates that's worth paying attention to," she said.

House Bill 1259 calls for closing a loophole that allows unlimited spending by independent committees; and 1260 would set limits for the first time on how much money can be raised by county candidates.

Bills 1261 and 1262 are attempts to create more transparency and accountability by revealing the names of groups promoting candidates through the entire campaign.

Even though some names, such as Coloradans for Clean Air, seem designed to hide a group's true political goals, Perl says HB 1261 would give voters a fighting chance to learn more from online databases. She says under current law, campaign backers are allowed to remain anonymous between the end of June and early September.

"That's the piece of the puzzle that House Bill 1261 is trying to fix: to actually give the name of the committee to the voter when they receive the advertisement," she explained.

The four proposals, introduced by Democrats, could be heard by the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee as early as this week. If passed by the House, the bills would then have to clear the Republican-controlled Senate.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO