Colorado Springs city election draws big wad of dark money

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A dark money organization, which has targeted certain candidates in the April 4 Colorado Springs City Council election, has spent more than $240,000 this election cycle.

According to campaign finance reports filed Friday, Colorado Citizens Protecting Our Constitution, based in Denver, with ties to Republican operatives, spent $241,813.

The candidates supported by CCPOC include Chuck Fowler, who's running against Richard Skorman in District 3; Lynette Crow-Iverson, who's challenging incumbent Jill Gaebler in District 5, and incumbent Andy Pico in District 6.

There may be other candidates CCPOC is helping, but we haven't received mailers that show that.

Recently, CCPOC inaccurately wrote in a campaign door hanger that Crow-Iverson was endorsed by the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance. It also twisted information used to slur Skorman.

For information on its activities in the council races you can check out this link, and this link, and this link.

CCPOC doesn't disclose the source of its money; hence the term dark money. It's raised $259,000 this election cycle and spent $241,813 on consultants, opposition researchers, advertising, canvassing and the like. Its campaign effort is being managed by Dede Laugesen, wife of Wayne Laugesen, editorial page editor for the Gazette, which has endorsed the candidates for which CCPOC is campaigning.

When the dust settles, the total raised in this election could approach $700,000. All for jobs that pay $6,250 a year.

Other campaign finance reports filed March 31 show:

• The Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, which already had spent upwards of $40,000, pushed out another $10,000 for Fowler and $5,000 for Greg Basham, who's challenging incumbent Don Knight in District 1.

• Together for Colorado Springs, a newly formed progressive group, spent more than it raised. It brought in $2,400 and spent $6,290. After figuring in cash on hand, it showed a deficit of $3,890. Independent chair John Weiss, who sits on the T4CS board, gave $2,000.
Likewise, the Sierra Club, Glastonbury, Conn., spent $21,369 on mailers for Skorman and Gaebler. This amount is reported as a deficit, with no money raised to cover the expense.
Via email, City Clerk Sarah Johnson says deficit spending is not legal and that she's notified T4CS and the Sierra Club of the need to fix the problem. She adds that reports will be amended to correct the issues.

• Firefighters spent about $4,590 campaigning online for Gaebler, Skorman and Knight.

• Crow-Iverson got $15,250 more money, from the police PAC, developers and business folk. She's raised about $70,000. Gaebler had raised nearly $40,000 but her March 31 report hadn't been posted on the city's website by 5 p.m.

• Skorman has brought in about $77,300 compared to Fowler's $66,400.

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