A popular liberal group that repeatedly failed to file required disclosure reports in a timely manner is now backing an effort to reform campaign finance laws in Colorado and around the country.
The local chapter of Common Cause, a liberal non-profit that has funneled cash to liberal causes and candidates in the state for nearly a decade, recently launched a new issue-based campaign to demand the “full and timely disclosure of campaign contributions, independent expenditures, and funding of electioneering communications “. The group is joined by a cadre of other advocacy organizations in the state attempting to specifically push Amendment 82, a measure that would alter the state constitution to include mandatory campaign spending limits.
The stated goals in the language of the amendment are two-fold: to eradicate large money from Colorado politics and to promote timely disclosure filings. Public records, tax filings, and annual reporting however all show Colorado Common Cause and the collaborative network it is building throughout the state have repeatedly failed to file their own disclosure reports on time. “Coloradans Stand Up To Big Money In Politics”, the banner under which Colorado Common Cause and its allies are rallying, is now registered as a political committee and is part of a larger national push by Common Cause known as Amend 2012.
As Media Trackers previously reported, Colorado Common Cause was one of the key liberal groups to take advantage of a weak 2005 change in Colorado reporting code and repeatedly failed to file required annual business documents in a timely manner from 2007 through 2010. Over that period of time, the organization was faced with nine delinquency notices, nine extension requests, nine delinquent campaign reports, and two suspensions.
Many of the organizations that support the Amend 2012 efforts fall into the same category as Common Cause, the driving force behind Amend 2012. Each “coalition member” listed at the launch of the Colorado Amend 2012 website has been guilty of at least one disclosure violation in Colorado according to public records: CoPIRG, Colorado Fair Share, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Colorado Progressive Coalition, and CleanSlateNow.org. These groups account for a total of ninety-five different financial disclosure violations.
People for the American Way was given three delinquent notices before it was suspended in 2005. After curing its suspension, it went on to file two extension requests and an additional delinquent campaign report before the end of the year. Over the next few years they were listed as delinquent three more times and suspended once again. Public Citizen, another Amend 2012 supporter in Colorado, failed to file campaign reports four times over a period of just two months in 2008. Colorado Fair Share shows more reminders from the Secretary of State’s office to file the required reports than actual filings over the history of the organization.
Organizations involved with the Amend 2012 effort operate on budgets ranging anywhere from the hundreds of thousands to upwards of $6 million per year, despite the effort’s goal of eliminating special-interest money from Colorado politics. For example, Common Cause reported $6.3 million in giving and $5.8 million in expenditures in 2010, the latest year for which data are available.
According to its tax filings, the group that founded the Amend 2012 movement spent $0.31 per dollar it raised to help rid the political system of special-interest cash.