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Group supporting Proposition HH launches $1 million ad blitz as Election Day nears

A late infusion of cash to Property Tax Relief Now made the spending possible, but the groups opposing the ballot measure have still raised and spent more money
A sign in the La Plata County Clerk and Recorders Office as votes are cast in 2022. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The group pushing for the passage of Proposition HH, the 10-year property tax relief plan on the November ballot, has launched a $1 million-plus advertising and messaging blitz as Election Day nears.

Property Tax Relief Now, also known as Yes on HH, has spent nearly $700,000 since Oct. 13 on TV and streaming site advertising, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday and the committee.

The committee has also spent roughly $250,000 on mailers and about $200,000 on digital advertising since mid-October.

The last-minute spending was made possible by big donations from liberal political nonprofits, which The Colorado Sun refers to as dark-money groups because they don’t reveal their donors. Those nonprofits include the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a national group, which gave Property Tax Relief Now $350,000 on Oct. 20; Education Reform Now Advocacy, another national group, which donated $100,000 on Oct. 13; and Boldly Forward, which is associated with Gov. Jared Polis and gave $75,000 to the committee on Oct. 12.

Education Reform Advocacy Now has given Property Tax Relief Now a total of $650,000, while the Sixteen Thirty Fund has donated a total of $600,000.

Property Tax Relief Now raised $760,000 from Oct. 12 to Oct. 25, the last fundraising period for which issue committees must file reports before Election Day. It spent nearly $1.3 million during that time.

“We are continuing to educate voters on what’s at stake in these final weeks of the election,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat and one of the architects of Proposition HH. “Our message is clear: If HH fails, property taxes will go up.”

Major contribution reports – required within 24 hours when an issue committee receives a donation of more than $1,000 in the month leading up to Election Day – show Property Tax Relief Now continues to raise money.

Boldly Forward gave Property Tax Relief Now $240,000 on Oct. 26, after the most recent campaign finance reporting period, and $10,000 on Oct. 27.

Boldly Forward has given Property Tax Relief Now a total of nearly $392,000.

Proposition HH, which was placed on the Nov. 7 ballot by Democrats in the legislature with the help of Polis, is highly complex. It would limit the increase in Coloradans’ property taxes each year by hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more than $1 billion. But over time, Coloradans could get billions less in tax refunds as the state government redirects those dollars to schools and other local agencies.

The recent fundraising and spending by proponents of Proposition HH has caught them up to the opponents of the ballot measure, who raised their cash earlier on and began attacking the initiative in mailers and on the airwaves over the summer.

The issue committees opposing Proposition HH had spent a total of $2.4 million through Oct. 25, compared with the $1.7 million total spent by Property Tax Relief Now. But the groups opposing the measure only had $125,000 left in their campaign accounts as of Oct. 25, compared with the $670,000 left in Property Tax Relief Now’s account.

Here’s a closer look at the fundraising and spending by the groups opposing Proposition HH through Oct. 25:

  • No on HH has raised nearly $2 million, with almost $1.2 million coming from Advance Colorado Action, a conservative political nonprofit that The Sun refers to as a dark-money group. No on HH has also received $600,000 from Defend Colorado and $150,000 from Ready Colorado, two more dark-money groups.
  • Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative political nonprofit, has spent $375,000 on canvassing, radio ads and mailers opposing Proposition HH through its state issue committee, Americans for Prosperity Colorado. Both Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Colorado are what The Sun refers to as dark-money groups.
  • The Colorado Association of Realtors spent nearly $167,000 on digital advertising and a website opposing Proposition HH through Coloradans for a Better Colorado, a recently formed state issue committee.
  • The TABOR Coalition has spent nearly $16,000 on radio ads and signs opposing Proposition HH. It has been funded by a couple of nonprofits and several individuals.
  • The Independence Institute, a conservative think tank, accounted for almost all of the $14,000 raised by Taxpayers for a Better Deal. The money from the nonprofit, another dark-money group, accounts in-kind contributions including staff time and office space.

In addition to money raised and spent by the issue committees opposing Proposition HH, Advance Colorado Action directly spent more than $556,000 on TV advertising and a newspaper ad opposing the ballot measure.

The group didn’t route the spending through an issue committee, but reported its spending to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office under a 2022 law that doesn’t require nonprofits to create an issue committee if 20% of their spending over three years isn’t on a single ballot measure.

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