Activists keep focus on campaign finance

At Capitol, Colo. groups decry lack of action

DENVER Imagine a political change favored by an overwhelming majority of voters but mostly ignored by politicians.

Thats what campaign finance activists in Colorado and Montana are facing these days. Theyre scratching their heads at why politicians arent talking more about campaign finance just two months after voters in both states, by wide margins, approved a ballot measure calling for federal changes to limit campaign spending.

Activists gathered in the Colorado Capitol basement Friday to remind politicians of the vote, in which Coloradans directed the congressional delegation to seek an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting campaign spending.

They brought signs for each member of Colorados House delegation reminding them of the county-by-county results of last years vote. Many topped 80 percent support.

A similar proposal passed in Montana last year with nearly 75 percent of the statewide vote.

Despite the results of last years Amendment 65, campaign finance activists say theyre still waiting for most of Colorados congressional delegation to propose changing the federal constitution to limit campaign spending.

The message we sent couldnt be clearer. Coloradans want to see action, said Danny Katz of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, one of the groups most responsible for getting Colorados ballot question to voters.

The measure directed the states nine-member congressional delegation to propose and support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment would overturn the 3-year-old Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United, which declared that corporations enjoy the same First Amendment rights to free speech as individual citizens and can therefore spend as much as they want to try to influence elections.

So far, most of Colorados congressional delegation has expressed support for the idea but not proposed any amendments, campaign finance activists said Friday.

The story was similar in Montana.

C.B. Pearson, spokesman for the group that backed the Montana initiative, said he received responses, but not commitments, from the staff of Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and no reply from Republican Rep. Steve Daines.

Katz and a handful of other campaign activists gathered in a mostly empty hearing room Friday. Few reporters attended, and no state politicians came. A public rally was planned for the Capitol steps today, with a public march to the Federal Reserve office in Denver.

Elena Nunez of Colorado Common Cause said activists will have to keep up pressure or else Amendment 65 could be forgotten by officials.

Its our job to make it a campaign issue, Nunez said.

Katz predicted a revival in politicians interest when voters again see hated campaign ads on TV especially in Colorado. His group calculated that a third of congressional campaign spending in Colorado last year came from what activists consider dark money, or money for which donors are anonymous.

We dont know who was behind it or what their interests are, Katz said.