Money flowing into governor’s race hits $21.37 million

Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 6:16 PM

More than $27.7 million has flowed into campaign coffers of all kinds in Colorado in the most recent reporting period, from July 28 to Aug. 29, according to the secretary of state’s campaign finance system, TRACER.

Governor’s raceCampaign contributions to the two major party candidates in the race for Colorado governor have now reached $21.37 million.

Among the donations reported in July is a $5 million bump from Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis. That brings his total contributions to his campaign to $18.3 million.

Republican candidate Walker Stapleton, who has now set up a federal “Stapleton Victory Fund” that is not required to file as a committee in Colorado with TRACER, took in a fraction of that, at $344,501.

That puts Polis, who limits contributions from everyone but himself to $100 each, at $18.6 million in total contributions and Stapleton at just under $3 million total.

Stapleton has contributed just over $1 million to his campaign in cash and in-kind donations. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t taking sizable donations.

Among Stapleton’s notable donors in the most recent reporting period:

The Colorado Republican Party, at $50,000, bringing their total to $130,000.Maximum $1,150 contributions from state treasurer candidate Brian Watson and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.But Stapleton has help from lots of other groups. On the dark money side, the Republican Governors Association PAC that supports Stapleton got $300,000 in July from the Republican Governors Association, meaning their donors are unknown. Total contributions to the RGA in Colorado now top $1.3 million.

Also waiting in the wings is funding from the Stapleton Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee set up under the Federal Elections Commission. That fund raised $345,662 in July, and on July 30 (after the most recent deadline in Colorado) transferred $311,096 to a variety of committees that are reportable to TRACER. That includes $14,165 to Stapleton’s gubernatorial campaign and the rest to two committees controlled by the Colorado Republican Party.

Among the 33 donors to the federal victory fund: Stapleton’s mother, Dorothy, who gave $14,825; and longtime GOP donors Ed and Carole McValey (Ed founded software giant JD Edwards), who each gave $12,500. Of those donors, all but nine gave more than $10,000 each. Only two gave less than $1,000.

But is it legal? Colorado’s campaign finance manual says that federal PACs are limited to the same maximum contributions that apply to individuals in Colorado: $1,150. That raises the question on whether that $14,165 contribution to the Stapleton campaign is legal.

However, it is the designation as a joint fundraising committee, according to the Stapleton campaign, that makes the donation to the Stapleton campaign legal. According to spokesman Michael Fortney, the committee is not a federal PAC but is organized “under federal and state law by the Colorado Republican Party and authorized in part by Stapleton for Colorado.”

The Secretary of State’s Office told Colorado Politics it is looking into the legality of these committees as they apply to Colorado campaign finance limits.

Attorney general’s raceThe big money in the race for Colorado’s next chief lawyer is coming from two Washington, D.C.-based associations, one for the Republicans, the other from the Democrats.

In the most recent reporting period, the Republican Attorneys General Association, which backs Republican George Brauchler through its IEC, Colorado Freedom, has now raised $1.04 million, including $394,659 in July.

Brauchler raised $122,310 in July, bringing his campaign total to $515,309. His biggest donors:

The Apartment Association of Metro Denver small donor committee, at $12,250.The Realtor small donor committee, also at $12,250.Democratic candidate Phil Weiser raised $356,492 in July, bringing his total to $2.06 million. Among his contributors in July:

The Colorado Democratic Party, which gave the campaign $52,500 in July, for a total of $93,245.The Colorado Education Association’s public education committee, at $12,250.An independent expenditure committee backing Weiser – Justice Colorado, which is backed by the Democratic Attorneys General Association – has raised a total of $233,870, including $144,500 in July.Its biggest donors are all individuals:

James Kelly of Denver, at $25,000.David Merage of Littleton, $10,000.Kenneth Pope of Denver, at $10,000.Pat Stryker of Fort Collins at $10,000. (Stryker is a well-known Democratic donor who has funneled millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns over the past 15 years.)State treasurerRepublican businessman Brian Watson raised $44,346 in July, bringing his campaign total to $349,035. Watson has also made $572,000 in loans to the campaign.

Among his donors are the same ones that popped up in Brauchler’s July report:

Apartment Association of Metro Denver small donor committee, at $12,250.Realtor’s small donor committee, at $2,500.Democratic candidate and state Rep. Dave Young had a better July, raising $83,494, bringing his total to $230,969. His biggest donors in July:

Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, at $7,500.The Colorado Education Association’s public education committee, with a donation of $6,125, bringing their total to $12,250.American Federation of Teachers, at $2,000 in July, for a total of $3,000.Secretary of stateThe only incumbent among the top four statewide races – Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams – raised $46,082 in July. The campaign’s total is now $235,635. His big donors in July are:

The Realtor’s small donor committee, at $12,250.A small donor committee for the Foothills Republicans, at $4,250.The Lincoln Club of Colorado, at $2,000.Democratic opponent Jena Griswold has raised $640,306, including $162,398 in July. Her largest contributions came from:

The public education committee for the CEA, at $12,250.The southwest carpenter’s group, at $7,500.The Colorado Democratic Party, with $7,645 in July, for a total of $46,645.The next campaign finance update, which will start to show how these latest funds are being spent, is due Sept. 17 and covers the period of Aug. 30 through Sept. 12.