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Colorado congressional delegation urged to amend Constitution to limit campaign spending

Greg Campbell
Contributor

Colorado’s congressional delegation has barely had time to get back to work since the election, and already they’re feeling rumblings of dissatisfaction from home.

They’re being urged to implement a new state constitutional amendment instructing them to introduce legislation amending the U.S. Constitution to limit campaign spending and overrule the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

That ruling paved the way for increased campaign spending through super PACs.

The voters made these demands through the ballot initiative Amendment 65, which is not legally binding in any way. The initiative says Colorado’s congressional leaders have been slow to act on the law or, in some cases, have done nothing at all.

Montana passed a similar measure, and many voters there have voiced the same complaints about its representatives.

“It’s a mixed bag,” said Danny Katz, the director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG), one of Amendment 65’s main proponents. “Some members seem to be doing quite a bit. … (but) some members aren’t moving forward at this point and are inclined not to. And we want to make sure that we change that.”

Amendment 65 passed overwhelmingly, with 74 percent of the vote, and it won in every county in Colorado. The battleground state was flooded with campaign ads paid for by out-of-state groups beginning months before the election.

According to CoPIRG, outside groups spent $5.5 million on Colorado House races, with 98 percent of the funding coming from groups registered out-of-state. More than 33 percent of the total spent on Colorado House races came from groups that weren’t required to disclose their source of funds.

Colorado’s delegation had mixed responses when contacted by CoPIRG for an update on how they’ve acted to implement Amendment 65.

Colorado Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter has been the most responsive, saying he has cosponsored two bills to amend the Constitution.

One proposed amendment would allow Congress and the states to regulate campaign spending, and the other would specify that corporations are not considered people under the Constitution.

Perlmutter also joined the Election Reform Task Force led by Connecticut Democratic Rep. John Larson; an amendment is one option being considered by the task force to limit campaign financing. Perlmutter also cosponsored the Disclose Act, which would strengthen campaign finance disclosure requirements.

Other lawmakers have been decidedly less active in implementing Amendment 65. Colorado Democratic Rep. Dianna DeGette’s staff reported only that she supported the Disclose Act in the past and that she “has fought efforts to weaken current campaign finance system.”

Reps. Cory Gardner, Scott Tipton, Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn, all Republicans, and Democrat Sen. Mark Udall have done nothing, according to CoPIRG.

Katz said part of the reason could be that since it’s likely to be a lengthy process, some who support the law simply haven’t gotten around to it yet.