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Three weeks after The Colorado Independent launched a series of reports detailing the shadowy group Western Skies Coalition, the watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch has filed an IRS complaint asking for an immediate investigation into whether Western Skies, along with three other 501(c)4 nonprofits, are truly engaged in “social welfare” activities — or if their activities are actually more akin to hard core politicking.
Even as a shadowy conservative group backed by oil and gas money works to reclaim a state Senate majority for Republicans in 2010, other issues committees are taking a much more direct approach to fighting off attempts to end tax subsidies for the industry in November.
State lawmakers and energy experts are hotly debating a pair of dueling oil and gas severance tax questions on the Nov. 4 ballot, with even some Republicans divided on Amendment 52, which is being touted by conservatives as an alternative to Gov. Bill Ritter’s Amendment 58 tax hike.
Rep. Frank McNulty is one of a trio of GOP state lawmakers thought to be behind the Western Skies Coalition — a Virginia corporation raising oil and gas money to target key state senate races. In an interview with Colorado Independent, McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) declined to discuss the group's funding sources Tuesday, but he did acknowledge signing its “Energy Leadership Action Plan” pledge.
A Denver-based nonprofit legal watchdog group filed suit in Denver District Court Tuesday against three Republican state lawmakers, asking a judge to compel them to fully comply with an open-records request relating to their correspondence about Amendment 52.
Note to the Obama campaign: John McCain handed you political gold when he said we should renegotiate the Colorado River Compact. Failing to use that in a Grand Junction TV spot, or at the very least on radio, would constitute political malpractice of the highest order. This could swing the Western Slope to enough to win state-wide.
It’s as clear as the Western Skies: Nonprofit 501(c)4s are the new 527s of the Colorado political scene, the latest way that shadowy special interest groups are tapping into seemingly unlimited undisclosed special interest cash to attack or support candidates who can further their agendas. Take, for instance, the Western Skies Coalition, a conservative group claiming to be a 501(c)4 nonprofit dedicated to “promoting issues that make our nation great.”
The Western Skies Coalition, a conservative Virginia corporation with an office in Littleton, is allegedly being used by state Sen. Josh Penry (R-Fruita) to raise funds from oil and gas companies in a bid target several key Colorado state Senate races and win back a Republican majority in 2010, according to several sources.