Colorado Springs City Council: Let's take a closer look at campaign finance


In this week's Independent, we report some of the thoughts members of Colorado Springs City Council have on reforming campaign finance rules in light of what many call a nasty city election on April 4.

As examples, check out this story about an anti-Richard Skorman ad, and another one mounted by a candidate against incumbent Jill Gaebler. Despite the ads, Skorman and Gaebler won.

Both have thoughts about changing how campaigns are financed.

Someone else who has some opinions is Sarah Jack, who's spent 30 years managing political campaigns, and oversaw four candidates' campaigns this go round. She worked for Deborah Hendrix, Chuck Fowler, Lynette Crow-Iverson and Greg Basham. All lost.

While reporting the story for this week's paper, we asked Jack for a comment, given her long experience. We heard back from her via email too late to include more than a single sentence in our paper but thought readers would be interested in what she has to say. Here's her take:
As a Free Speech advocate, I believe that campaign limits confine free speech and violate the First Amendment rights of citizens who want to participate in the process. Many disagree, but that is my view.

As the elected leaders of our City these Members have every right to consider changes and propose changes to the campaign finance rules. And I suppose if they are as successful at labeling people as evil, and free speech as dark money as they were in the recent campaigns they may receive public support. Ultimately the burden will fall mostly on the candidates and supporters who want to run for office and participate in the political process. I would warn them that all campaign finance laws limiting free speech have accomplished so far is to drive funding and campaigns underground. The US Supreme Court has recognized that citizens have a right to participate and to use their resources (time, talent, and money) to both run and support others in running and that is a protected right. People who can afford lawyers and campaign finance consultants will find a way to get their message out when they have a great deal at stake and those most harmed by campaign finance rules are those without the resources to use alternate methods to get their message out.

For the record I do not believe that the CCPOC [Colorado Citizens Protecting Our Constitution, a nonprofit that doesn't disclose donors] or any outside group worked against the candidates the business community overwhelmingly supported. As there could not be and was not any coordination because of campaign finance laws ... mistakes can and will happen to the best of us.

It is incumbent on me, the candidates, Members of Council, the community to evaluate what occurred a week ago. There were many good people with different ideas and values running. There is a lot at stake. Elections matter.
After the election results were tallied last week, Colorado Springs Forward and the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs found themselves with only one endorsee in the winner's circle — Andy Pico.

Their other choices were the same slate who hired Jack to work on their campaigns. We asked CSF and the HBA for comments. We never heard back from the HBA, but CSF's Executive Director Amy Lathen sent us this statement in an email:
Colorado Springs Forward wishes to thank each and every candidate for their thoughtful, passionate efforts. We look forward to working with everyone in all that comes our way as a community, and we hope that all of you do as well.

Further, we have added our sincere congratulations today to our new and continuing Council members, Don Knight, District 1, David Geislinger, District 2, Richard Skorman, District 3, Yolanda Avila, District 4, Jill Gaebler, District 5 and Andy Pico, District 6.

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