Denver voters passed a law Tuesday that supporters hope will dull the power of money in local elections and attract a more diverse field of candidates.
Measure 2E, known as “Democracy for the People,” frees up public funding for candidates who agree to forgo money from political action committees and demonstrate a base of support.
About 69 percent of voters endorsed 2E on Election Day, according to the Denver Elections Division.
The campaign finance reform measure also bans corporations, businesses and labor unions from donating directly to political campaigns for city offices, and lowers the cap on donations for mayor, city council and other government posts.
Two of the law’s five original supporters are candidates for the Denver City Council in 2019. One of them is Tony Pigford.
“I’m really excited,” Pigford said Tuesday night. “I think there’s a strong undercurrent of progressive energy in Denver. I think the city can become a true beacon of truly progressive values.”
The backdrop to this local law is a nationwide movement to overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that lets corporations donate to political campaigns as if they’re people. Pigford said that starts at the city level.
“We’ve got to eventually overturn Citizens United and this is a step in the right direction,” Pigford said. “Is it as far as we need to go with nationally? No.”
If the results hold, starting January 1, 2020 mayoral candidates will be banned from accepting more than $1,000 per donor, down from $3,000. Individual donations for at-large council members will shrink from $2,000 to $700, while district candidates’ will be capped at $400, down from $1,000.