New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped a cool $1 million in support of a campaign in Colorado to raise income taxes by nearly $1 billions a year.
Bloomberg’s intervention occurred even though Gov. John Hickenlooper recently appealed to deep-pocketed out-of-state groups to stay out of local politics.
Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates also contributed $1 million to the hard-fought effort to pass Amendment 66, which would raise $950 million in taxes each year to fund education reforms.
Both donations come despite Hickenlooper’s recent statement that “Colorado is a state that people like to be themselves and solve their own problems.”
“They don’t really like outside organizations meddling in their affairs,” he told USA Today two weeks ago, speaking about an effort to recall a third Democratic state senator because of her support of Colorado’s new gun control laws.
The comments were thinly veiled references to Bloomberg’s anti-gun group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which helped finance the campaigns of former state senators John Morse and Angela Giron, the first state legislators to be recalled in Colorado history.
Recall proponents and Republican legislators seized on Bloomberg’s involvement in the recall elections as an example of how he was pulling the strings of Democratic leaders.
Democratic Sen. Evie Hudak is now also facing a recall that has even higher stakes for Democrats — if she is ousted, Republicans will take control of the state senate. Democrats currently control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s mansion.
Perhaps recognizing a backlash against groups like Bloomberg’s, Hickenlooper told USA Today that it’s “probably not a bad idea” if they sat out the effort to recall Hudak, which needs 18,900 signatures by Dec. 3 to trigger a special election.
But supporters of Amendment 66 — of whom Hickenlooper is the most high-profile — apparently welcome Bloomberg’s money to help raise taxes.
“We think the mayor has a long history of supporting education reforms, and we’re happy to have him supporting the education reforms Amendment 66 would bring,” Yes on 66 spokesman Curtis Hubbard told the Denver Post, where he was until recently the opinion editor.
“We’re focused exclusively on education and delivering a national model for public education to Colorado,” he said. “And the mayor recognized Amendment 66′s promise for public education.”
Compass Colorado, a group opposed to Amendment 66, blasted Bloomberg’s continued involvement in Colorado affairs.
“Billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg should have realized by now that he can’t buy Colorado politics, but apparently he can still rope his friends in to try to flood the landscape with out-of-state money,” said executive director Kelly Maher in a statement emailed to the media.
“Governor Hickenlooper’s hypocritical comments are just yet another example of his inability to take a firm stand on any issue,” she said.
“One minute he is against out-of-state political money, but if it’s for his billion dollar tax hike baby, then it’s praiseworthy.”
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