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The Senate Race
Rocky Mountain Alliance of Blogs, 2.0
My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|I had assumed that Gov Ritter's cowardly Executive Order creating unions for state employees was a simple payback for their support in the next election. My mistake.|
Turns out it was more of an attempt to drive an electoral Mack Truck through a loophole in the campaign finance laws.
Our story begins with a seeming "loophole" in Amendment 27, the 2002 Colorado campaign finance law written by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters. It allows labor unions to contribute up to $4,000 to candidates to the legislature. Businesses and private citizens like you are limited to one-tenth as much as unions can contribute, no more than $400 per election season. . . .
Here's how it works: "Small donor committees" are allowed to give politicians 10 times as much as any other person or group if they get only $50 or less per contributor.
If a union sponsored a barbecue and asked 100 members to kick in $40 each to elect a Democratic challenger to Witwer, he'd have no reason to complain. But that's not how it works. For example, unions can deduct $4 a month from a member's $15 monthly dues to the Colorado Association of Public Employees/Service Employees International Union, and count the resulting $48 a year as a "small donor" contribution from a member who may not even be aware that she made that supposed "donation."
There are about 83 races for the legislature in a given election, which would allow a single union to pour $332,000 into legislative campaigns. But that's only the start — each union local can play the same game with dues money. If CAPE/SEIU organizes just five such locals, it could pour $20,000 into each of those races, more than $1.6 million. If four other unions followed suit, that would mean $100,000 for each friendly Democrat, more than $8 million in all.
And don't forget, Republicans trying to counter this torrent of Democratic cash would be limited to no more than $400 per donor. No wonder Republicans are crying havoc.
When you think about it, that's a pretty good return on an investment for the Gang of Three--over $5 million invested over the last two elections to all but guarantee an $8 million return per election into the future.
And they say our new campaign finance laws take the corruption OUT of politics.
If the GOP doesn't get an up and running in the next two weeks about this, they don't deserve to take back any part of the state of Colorado.
I'm serious. If we keep the powder dry, waiting for more favorable winds in 2010, there may be no sail left on the ship to catch those winds. We need to start defining the terms of the election NOW, before we get swamped with Gang/Union money in the cycle.
For more thorough commentary on this, buzz on over to Ben's site and read his usual piece of smart writing.