A bill that would create disclosure requirements for 527 committees sailed through the House State Affairs Committee Thursday morning on a vote of 9-1. Freshman Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, cast the only vote against the measure.
“We have far lesser influential organizations with far greater disclosure requirements under current law,” said the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora.
HB07-1074 requires so-called 527 political committees to adhere to Colorado disclosure standards already in place for other political committees. As a representative of the office that would keep track of 527 disclosures, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Hobbs gave his qualified support for the bill. He said the Sec. of State’s office wants to make sure the language of the bill is clear.
Several members of the public also testified in support of the bill. While stressing the importance of transparency in campaign finance, Angelique Layton of Louisville referred to the package of dog excrement that was delivered to Marilyn Musgrave’s office last summer.
“When we know that our name is going to be tied to the package of dog poop that we are delivering to someone, we will be thinking twice about what we are doing,” Layton said.
Because of the lax rules imposed by the federal government on 527 committees, it’s often difficult to determine who is behind their usually negative ads. This has caused growing concern over the past several years because the organizations can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, while candidates and other political committees have to adhere to state campaign finance rules.
Currently, 527 organizations are required to report to the IRS only four times during a non-election year and six times during an election year. And, organizations with less than $25,000 don’t have to report at all. Committees falling under the 527 designation poured almost $30 million dollars into Colorado campaigns during the last election cycle.
“I think this is the single most important thing we can do to say that we’re going to work together on a bipartisan mission here,” Rep. Carroll said. “We believe in clean campaigns. We believe in transparency. We believe clean campaigns lead to clean government.”
Past coverage of HB 1074 by Colorado Confidential: