Referred Measure 2E in the 2018 Denver election: What to know about funding campaigns with public money and banning corporate donations

Money and politics could dance a little further apart in 2020.

VOTE HERE, set up in front of the City and County Building. June 11, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

VOTE HERE, set up in front of the City and County Building. June 11, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Measure 2E would allow city candidates to use public funds and lower campaign contributions. The goal is to attract more diverse candidates for office and dull the edge that money has in politics.

Here’s the language you’ll see on your ballot:

Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver adopt an amendment to the Denver Revised Municipal Code banning corporations and other entities from donating directly to candidates, lowering contribution limits, and adopting a new division to Article III of Chapter 15 of the Denver Revised Municipal Code creating the Fair Elections Fund within the City’s general fund, capped at 8 million dollars per four-year election cycle, as appropriated by City Council and the Mayor, to match donations of 50 dollars or less at a ratio of 9 to 1 to candidates who voluntarily agree to raise money in lower amounts and only take contributions from natural persons and from committees that only take contributions from natural persons who each contribute no more than 50 dollars in the aggregate per year?

What does that mean?

Bit of a run-on sentence, Editors of the Ballot.

If you vote yes, you support banning direct donations from corporations to candidates running in the city of Denver. It would also lower the limit of campaign contributions:

City and County of Denver

City and County of Denver

A yes vote would make city funds fair game for candidates who gain enough supporters and agree to spending limits. A $50 donation could gain up to $450 in city funds, according to the initiative’s text. The measure would establish a new pot of money — about $2 million annually — from Denver’s budget reserves. Think of it as the couch cushions of city hall.

Any candidate who opts in would have to shun money from political action campaigns — those PACs everyone’s talking about. Measure 2E would start in 2020.

Who’s for it and who’s against it?

Democracy for the People initiated this measure, but the Denver City Council sent it to voters. (Denverites should “not infer council’s endorsement,” according the city Blue Book.) The goal is to attract a more diverse field of candidates from more socioeconomic backgrounds, and increase voter turnout, proponents say.

No organized opposition exists, though the Denver City Council and mayor’s office tweaked the initial version, which you can see in the Blue Book. City Councilman Kevin Flynn doesn’t like the idea of publicly funding candidates, but said, “I’ll make it work if voters say ‘yes.’”

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election 2018