Colorado’s campaign finance system is shaped both by national and local regulations.
The most influential national regulation is that which resulted from Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that opened the floodgates for the influence of corporate money on politics.
The ruling in Citizens United allowed corporations to make unlimited donations to political action committees (called PACs) which are not allowed to collaborate with campaigns, but which nonetheless can wield great influence over elections.
Local regulations vary by county and/or municipality. For example, Denver’s elections are governed by the campaign finance section of their municipal code, which has not been changed since the late 1990s, and it therefore it does not take Citizens United into consideration, nor the vast changes since that time in how campaigns are run and financed.
A number of campaign finance reforms have been suggested that would affect Colorado at both the state and local levels.
Nationally, a movement to enact a 28th amendment to limit the effect of money in politics has taken hold, and Coloradans voted in 2012 to ask their congressional representatives to support such an amendment.
Locally, changes can be made to municipal codes to change financial reporting requirements. County Clerks could be given more authority to issue fines and penalties for violations to strengthen accountability and compliance. And disclosure requirements could be enacted to increase the public’s awareness of the origin of campaign donations.
Several organizations are working to reform the campaign finance systems at play throughout Colorado.
Colorado Common Cause and Colorado Ethics Watch are working with the Denver Clerk and Recorder’s office to improve Denver’s campaign finance code. They want to change reporting and disclosure requirements to make the process more transparent.
American Promise is leading a “Ready to Ratify” campaign in states like Colorado that have called for the amendment. They will be engaging citizens from cities and towns all across Colorado to pass local resolutions calling on Congress to follow the voter instruction from the 2012 statewide ballot initiative.
Represent.Us is the nation’s largest grassroots anti-corruption campaign. They bring together conservatives, progressives and everyone in between to fix America’s corrupt political system. They are passing anti-corruption laws in cities and states across America. These laws protect our communities from corruption – and build momentum for national reform. The Denver chapter is currently working with local partners to build a grassroots, bipartisan anti-corruption network to pass laws that fix our corrupt political system and our broken elections in 2018.
Bridging the growing partisan divide in the legislature by electing centrist, independent candidates to office.
Rooting out political corruption by enacting stronger ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance reforms.
Allowing all voters to participate in all elections by defending open primaries.
Leveling the playing field that currently advantages incumbents by ending the practice of partisan gerrymandering.
Providing voters greater choice in elections by establishing alternate voting systems both locally and statewide.