Amendment 75 in the 2018 Colorado election: What to know about campaign contribution reform

This is the one about creating counterweights to candidates who can afford to dump lots of money into their own campaigns.

A machine that presses Roosevelt's face into blank dimes. Making money at the U.S. Mint. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A machine that presses Roosevelt's face into blank dimes. Making money at the U.S. Mint. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Amendment 75 asks if Colorado should allow higher campaign contribution limits if one candidate in a race contributes more than $1 million in personal funds.

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

Amendment 75 proposes amending the Colorado Constitution to:

  • increase campaign contribution limits when a candidate loans or contributes more than $1.0 million to his or her own campaign, by allowing all candidates in the same election to collect five times the level of individual contributions currently authorized in the state constitution.

Why is this a thing?

While political supporters in Colorado are limited in how much they can donate to a given campaign, candidates are not limited in how much they inject from their personal funds into their campaigns. The measure is being touted as a way to even the playing field when wealthy candidates use their private coffers to get an edge.

Who’s for it and who’s against it?

The measure was sponsored by former state house republicans B.J. Nikkel and Greg Brophy. It’s being supported by Pro 15, a group representing northeast Colorado. The Denver Post Editorial Board is also in favor of the measure, saying  “net worth shouldn’t be a qualification for office.” KUNC reports that gubernatorial candidates Jared Polis, who has used more than $22 million of his own money in his campaign, and Walker Stapleton both support the measure.

Colorado Common Cause, a nonprofit that fights for government accountability, is one group that’s against the measure. Caroline Fry, the organization’s director of outreach, told KUNC that allowing more money to pour into a race is not an answer to a system that’s already inequitable: “The whole theory of leveling the playing field by quintupling contribution limits — all this is doing is opening our elections to more big spenders.”

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election 2018