Secretive ‘clean government’ group dings Tapia in new ad

A campaign criticized for refusing to disclose its financial supporters recently purchased a series of television attack ads targeting “backroom deals for political insiders,” the first of which assails a Democratic state senator for failing to disclose his financial ties to specific legislation.

Proponents of Amendment 54, calling their proposal a “clean government” initiative, have announced the premiere of their first television ad, which is airing in the Denver area.

The spot features a still image of state Sen. Abel Tapia, a Pueblo Democrat who was chided by legislative attorneys earlier in the year for appropriating money to the Colorado State Fair while failing to publicly disclose the fact that his engineering business had earned income via multiple state contracts with the same organization.

While the ad is quick to dangle a carrot in front of the viewer — a public database that would be able to search no-bid contracts — the real intentions of Amendment 54 are less than altruistic.

It’s clear from the proposal’s text that Amendment 54 would ban political contributions given by certain labor unions and relatives of union supporters. The proposal has provoked police officers and firefighters in employee unions to condemn the measure as taking away their free speech rights.

Clean Government Colorado, the campaign supporting Amendment 54, has been primarily funded by anonymous contributions given from a nonprofit connected to the conservative Independence Institute, a “free market” think thank involved in state politics.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at