10/31/2002

 

Daily Camera

 

Colorado fund raising going fast and furious

 

By Sandra Fish

Camera Staff Writer

 

EDITOR`S NOTE

   This is one of several stories in the Daily Camera on the money political campaigns raise and spend in the 2002 election.

   To analyze campaign contributions, the Daily Camera used data downloaded from the Secretary of State`s office, with the most recent update on Oct. 26. For the most part, the data covers campaign filings through Oct. 9.

   The data is posted on the Daily Camera`s Web site at http://web.dailycamera.com/votersguide02

   The Colorado Republican Committee failed to file notices of large contributions, as required by law, until Wednesday afternoon, just five days before the election.

    That's despite receiving 65 such contributions between Oct. 10 and 23. 

    State law requires candidates and other political committees to file notices with the Colorado secretary of state of any contribution of $1,000 or more in the 30 days before an election. The notices must be filed within 24 hours of the contribution.

   "We made a mistake based on an errant reading of the state statutes, and we`re taking steps to remedy the problem," said Alan Philp, executive director of the Colorado Republican Party.

   The party began posting the contributions to the secretary of state`s Web site Wednesday afternoon.

   The penalty for failing to file the notices is a $50-a-day fine, although secretary of state spokeswoman Lisa Doran said the fine doesn`t take effect until after violators are notified by mail of the problem and still fail to comply with the law. Doran said the office will be sending out letters about the violations later this week.

   The state GOP held a comfortable fund-raising lead over Democrats as of Oct. 23, according to reports filed Wednesday. Republicans spent about $10.5 million through that date, although a large share of the party`s money comes from federal committees national GOP committees and is being spent on federal races such as the U.S. Senate contest between Sen. Wayne Allard and Democrat Tom Strickland.

   In fact, Colorado ranks third in the nation in spending by federal party senatorial and congressional committees through Oct. 16. The Democratic committees have spent $5.9 million, while the GOP committees spent $5.8 million, according to an analysis by the Federal Election Commission released Wednesday.

   But the Republican National Committee has outspent it`s Democratic counterpart in donations to Colorado parties by $1.6 million to $440,866, according to the Election Commission.

   Through Oct. 9, three major state Democratic parties spent about $6.7 million. Analysis of campaign finance reports indicates Democrats are spending considerable money on state Senate and House races. State party committees have donated almost $1.1 million to Democratic candidates, while the Colorado Republican Committee donated almost $870,000 to state legislative races.

   With the majority in the state Senate -- and possibly the state House -- on the line next week, both parties are pumping up the volume of fund raising in the final weeks. Last week, Democrats received a $275,000 boost from Louise Gund, a photographer from Berkeley, Calif. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers also donated $150,000 to Democratic Party committees in the past week.

   Democrats are using a loophole in state campaign finance law and setting up 14 different political party committees to collect contributions. Gund, for example, gave the maximum $25,000 to 11 of the committees, according to large contribution filings on the secretary of state`s Internet site. The electrical workers union gave to six of the committees.

   Meanwhile, GOP state Chairman Bruce Benson, his wife Marcy and other Republican stalwarts are giving the maximum donations to several House and Senate races in the waning weeks of campaigning.

   Colorado Common Cause spokesman Pete Maysmith said: "The state Senate races, it`s staggering the amount of money being poured in."

   In Senate District 16, Democratic Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald has raised more than $287,000, compared with Republican Web Sill`s $216,000.

   Contact Sandra Fish at (303) 473-1356 or fishs@dailycamera.com.