GOP 527 sued over illegal fliers targets Northwest Colorado races

Senate Majority Fund, a controversial 527 political committee being sued by Colorado Ethics Watch for alleged campaign violations, is raising some eyebrows in and around Steamboat Springs with a wave of fliers weighing in on the state Senate District 8 race.

According to the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the fliers go after Democrat Ken Brenner for advocating for state-run, taxpayer-funded health care, depicting a monkey with a stethoscope and the tagline, “Is now the time to monkey around with health care?” The group also sent out fliers promoting Republican Al White and his ability to deal with economic issues.

Colorado Ethics Watch, a Denver-based nonprofit political watchdog group, last month sued Senate Majority Fund for allegedly touting specific candidates, which is not legal for 527 groups. Named after a section of the IRS tax code, 527s don’t have the same funding restrictions of candidate committees, but are not allowed to specifically target candidates.

And in the race to replace White, who for the past eight years has represented state House District 57 and is therefore term-limited, there are also complaints of outside money targeting the Democrat.
In an article Wednesday in the Pilot & Today, Democrat Todd Hagenbuch reportedly issued a statement condemning his Republican opponent, Randy Baumgardner, for taking much of his more than $33,000 in campaign contributions from out-of-district political action committees and small-donor committees.

“District 57 citizens deserve someone who represents them, not special interests from outside Northwest Colorado,” Hagenbuch said in the statement. “I’m the fourth generation to call this special part of our state home, and I will fight for the common values we share and will protect what I’ve learned here at the state Capitol.”

The paper went on to quote Baumgardner from an earlier interview saying the groups contributing to his campaign share his values of protecting the Second Amendment and private property rights. “I’ll take money from anybody,” Baumgardner said. “Anybody wants to give me money, I’ll take it.”

Some of Baumgardner’s contributions include $2,000 from Service Employees International, $2,000 from the Colorado Association of Public Employees, $400 from American Family Insurance, $400 from Associated Collection Agencies Political Committee Fund and two $200 donations from Waste Management PAC, the Pilot & Today reported.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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