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The Colorado Blueprint Today: State Senate Edition

Has the famed Colorado Blueprint hit a campaign finance snag?

Close inspection of a set of Democratic-supporting 527 groups—tax-exempt organizations created primarily to influence the selection of candidates to all levels of public office—and independent expenditure committees raises a number of questions about both the mechanics and the politics of the Colorado Democracy Alliance’s decade-old strategy.

The organizations in question first came to Watchdog Wire’s attention when they produced an ad critical of State Senate candidate Tim Neville for his stand on federal budget issues.  The ad itself was produced by the Citizens’ Alliance For Accountable Leadership, and was featured on the You Tube channel of Colorado Voters’ Voice.

Those two organizations appear to be part of a group of teams devoted specifically to swing State Senate races, also including Mainstream Colorado, and the Colorado Voter Information Project.

Here’s how the money flows:

State Senate Cell

TRACER records show that Mainstream Colorado has contributed $100,000 to the Colorado Voter Information Project (CVIP), which has passed that along to Colorado Voters’ Voice (CVV).  The national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee has contributed $200,000 to CVIP, which has passed that along to CVV.  This $300,000 constitutes CVV’s only funding for this cycle.

At the same time, Mainstream has contributed $1.2 million to the Citizens’ Alliance for Accountable Leadership (CAAL), which constitutes that organization’s only funding.

An FEC search finds at least three campaign committees named “Fair Share” – Fair Share Action (Denver), Fair Share Alliance (Washington, DC), and Fair Share Alliance PAC (Boston).

A TRACER search shows that Mainstream Colorado claims to have been the recipient of contributions from both the Denver and Boston committees, with two separate cumulative totals.  However, the FEC filings for the Boston committee show $0 in contributions or expenditures since its founding.

Statements of Organization indicate that the three groups are closely related, a relationship detailed by the Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay earlier in the week.  The Fair Share Action was initially based in Boston, however, early on it moved its address of record to Denver, while retaining the same Boston-based treasurer.

CVV has paid for electioneering communications in the re-election or election campaigns of Sens. Rachel Zenzinger, Jeanne Nicholson, Andy Kerr, and Mike Merrifield, while CAAL has focused on those four races—including $300,000 in Merrifield’s race to unseat Bernie Herpin—as well as Judy Solano’s (D) race against Beth Humenik (R) in SD-24.

(These five should be honored to be receiving $200K of money from the DLCC; Open Secrets reports that they’ve only given just under $900,000 to committees nationally, while spending $2.9 million on salaries, wages, and benefits.)

Private sector unions are major contributors to both Mainstream Colorado and the DLCC, but all of the candidates and incumbents being supported by CAAL and CVV have 100 percent or 99 percent lifetime ratings from Conservation Colorado, including votes for SB-252, which extended the renewable energy mandate.  That vote is credited with driving up electricity costs, and making harder on industrial operations in the state.  In short, union dues are being used to pay to support policies that will put those workers on unemployment.

 Featured image from Shuttertstock

Joshua Sharf

Joshua is co-editor of Watchdog Wire - Colorado. Contact him at Colorado@WatchdogWire.com to learn how to get involved with citizen journalism in the Boulder State. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuasharf

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