New campaign finance rules adopted in Colorado Springs


City Council and mayoral candidates will have to follow new campaign finance rules in 2019. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
  • City Council and mayoral candidates will have to follow new campaign finance rules in 2019.

Those running for city offices in Colorado Springs in the April 2 election will have new rules to follow.

City Council voted 5-2 on Dec. 11 to make changes in the city's campaign finance code. Councilors Andy Pico and Tom Strand opposed the measure, and Councilors Bill Murray and Merv Bennett were absent for the vote.

Here's a description of the changes from our previous report on the measure:
• Any campaign piece [must] state who paid for it, including ads in magazines, and on billboards, large campaign signs, direct mailings, handbills, internet-based advertising and broadcast ads on radio, television and other technologies. Disclosure [will] not be required on yard signs, pens, lapel pins or bumper stickers. It [won't] apply to individuals who don’t form committees. The [previous] ordinance [required] the disclosure only in 
newspaper ads.

The requirement [will] allow voters to consult campaign finance reports to identify which group or individuals funded which campaign tools. Even dark money groups are required to file campaign finance reports, although they don’t have to list individual donors. Frequently, dark money groups list one donation from their own political action committee. For example, in one 2017 filing, the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs was listed as the sole donor, of $50,000, to the HBA Political Action Committee.

• More precise disclosure of how money is spent [is now required]. Under the [past] ordinance, candidates [could] list an expense for a campaign consultant without detailing what’s covered. During the 2017 election, for example, one candidate listed $8,000 was spent on “grassroots” campaigning. [The new] measure [requires] candidates and campaign committees in the upcoming April 2 city election to report “the source and purpose” of each expenditure.

But how much detail is required is sort of fuzzy and led Strand and Pico to oppose the measure, along with Mayor John Suthers.

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