A search of publicly available records reveals a web of connections between environmental groups in and out of Colorado. National and out-of-state environmental organizations have poured money into the coffers of various green organizations within the state of Colorado, money which then can be traced to lobbyists, activist efforts, get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operations, and candidates running for local, state, and federal offices.
Each election cycle environmental organizations in Colorado create political committees to facilitate the transfer of money in order to fund lobbying, activism, and GOTV efforts. The funding has also been used to directly support candidates for office. Each election cycle many of these front groups fail to file financial disclosures required by law, resulting in the groups being dissolved, and effectively hiding their flow of money at first glance.
The life cycle of these groups can be traced going back to at least the 2000 election cycle. In 2000, Coloradans for Responsible Growth was created and later terminated in early 2002, having never filed the required financial reports. Over the course of the cycle Coloradans for Responsible Growth received contributions totaling in the hundreds of thousands:
- National Wildlife Federation – $100,000
- Colorado Public Interest Research Group (COPirg) – $135,000
- Motra LLC, California – $200,000
- Sierra Club of Colorado – $44,500
- Colorado Environmental Coalition – $35,000
- East West Partners – $100,000
- League of Conservation Voters – $100,000
Coloradans for Clean Energy was created for the 2004 election cycle to facilitate the flow of money into Colorado. The bulk of the funding for the group came from organizations outside Colorado. Of all the large money donors for Coloradans for Clean Energy, only three were from Colorado. Those groups kicked in roughly $300,000, or roughly 30 percent of total funding received by Coloradans for Clean Energy that cycle. Nine groups of large donors from outside the state combined to contribute $420,000.
Out-of-State Contributions to Coloradans for Clean Energy
- The Partnership Project – $90,000
- American Wind Energy Association – $40,000
- USPIRG – $30,000
- Union of Concerned Scientist – $95,000
- MoveOn – $25,000
- Natural Resources Defense Council – $50,000
- The Environmental Defense Fund – $25,000
- Powerlight – $30,000
- Solar Industries Association – $35,000
In-State Contributions to Coloradans for Clean Energy
- Environment Colorado* – $250,000
- Sierra Club of Colorado – $30,000
- Colorado Environmental Coalition – $20,000
Of special note in the list above is Environment Colorado, by far the largest single donor to Coloradans for Clean Energy. From 2002 to 2009, Environment Colorado has failed to file the required financial disclosures as required by law. Despite these failures to file, the group is still operating in Colorado.
In the 2008 election cycle A Smarter Colorado was formed. In a key election year for Democrats, A Smarter Colorado brought in nearly $3 million in contributions from outside the state. Portions of that money went to fund payroll for notable Coloradans such as Ben Prochazka, a lobbyist for the Colorado Environmental Coalition; George Merritt, the spokesman for John Hickenlooper’s gubernatorial campaign and A Smarter Colorado; Kelly Nordini, former Deputy Chief of Staff of special projects for Gov. Ritter, who went on to become the program officer for the Western Conservation Foundation; Bethany Gravell, Development Director for the Colorado Conservation Trust; and Ryan Clement, a lawyer with the Kenney Group, a firm that specializes in political consulting that also worked on Gov. Hickenlooper’s Denver mayoral campaign.
Out-of-State Contributions to A Smarter Colorado ($2,900,000)
- The Nature Conservancy – $1,500,000
- Conservation Campaign – $25,000
- The Conservation Fund – $50,000
- The Environmental Defense Fund – $110,000
- The national Sierra Club – $295,000
- Big Hen Corp – $100,000
- Partnership Project – $26,000
- The American Alliance for Economic Development – $50,000
- The National Education Association – $110,000
- The Sonora Institue – $210,000
- Arabella Legacy – $174,000
- Tudor Jones Investments – $250,000
- Iberdrola Renewables – $35,000
In-State Contributions to A Smarter Colorado ($750,000)
- Progressive Future – $215,000
- SEIU Colorado – $100,000
- Colorado Environmental Coalition – $105,000
- Colorado Conservation Voters – $250,000
- Environment Colorado – $20,000
- Vestar – $25,000
There was another front group that came and went in 2008 known as Responsible Colorado. Per this group’s major contributors report, liberal guru Pat Stryker gave $35,000 directly to the project’s general fund.
Colorado Conservation Victory Fund was created for the 2010 election cycle, with contributions from the following organizations:
- Colorado Conservation Voters – $186,000
- Colorado Freedom Fund – $30,000
- LCV Political Engagement Fund – $70,000
- Moore Capital Management – $35,000
Tying so many of these state environmental organizations together are the registered agent name and the building housing these organizations. Julie Wells is listed as the registered agent for a majority of the groups in Colorado. Additionally, in recent years, these groups have been housed at 1536 Wynkoop Street in Denver, which is also listed as the address for a large number of liberal organizations within the state.
While these organizations don’t give directly to candidates, instead providing the air support and ground operations needed for a successful campaign, reports show that the directors and board members of these organizations have given generously to liberal candidates who support the environmental lobby’s pet causes.
Candidates running for local, state and federal races have received donations from the principals of the various environmental organizations. Max Tyler, Crestina Martinez, Angela Giron, Jeanne Nicholson, Matt Jones, Gail Schwartz, Jeanne Labuda, and Joe Miklosi have all received funds from the environmental network.
This post was originally published at Media Trackers Colorado.