Aurora may allow candidates to donate campaign dollars to issue committees

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AURORA | Campaign contributions could go to much more than a candidate’s campaign under a new measure that received initial approval from Aurora City Council during a study session Monday, Nov. 9.

The ordinance, proposed by Councilwoman Renie Peterson, would allow unexpended campaign contributions to a candidate committee to be contributed to an issue committee for the purpose of supporting or opposing any local ballot issue or ballot question.

“Down the road, we’re going to have to ask for an increase to take care of roads. It would be helpful if some of us could donate our leftover campaign funds,” she said as her reason for proposing the measure.

The City Council also voted to amend the measure so that leftover campaign contributions could not go to political parties.

“If we’re nonpartisan and our actions are nonpartisan, why would we sanction contributing our funds to a political party?” asked Councilwoman Molly Markert, who asked for political parties to be removed from the measure.

Aurora City Attorney Mike Hyman said the city is relying on a 2003 opinion issued by former Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar, who  ruled in elections conducted by home-rule municipalities such as Aurora, the practice would be legal.

“To the best of my knowledge, no opinions have been issued by either of Mr. Salazar’s successors on this particular topic,” Hyman said before the meeting. 

The measure still needs final approval and will go to a regular city council session next.

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readmylips
readmylips
6 years ago

So let me try to understand this proposed resolution. i donate $l00 to a candidate running for the Aurora City Council. They have
leftover funds (maybe my money), and they will be able to use it to promote a ballot measure that the City Council places on the
ballot like the race track. Even if i disagree with a ballot measure, my money would be spent to promote it, or even oppose it.

People in Wards 3 and 4 are discussing this proposed resolution, and are totally amazed that in the future, campaign contributions
could be used in this manner.

It has been reported that Mayor Hogan spent $35,000 of his campaign funds to promote the race track. What would prevent
other candidates to do the same — guess they don’t need an “issues committee.”

pat
pat
6 years ago
Reply to  readmylips

think people will think twice before donating to candidates if they thought their money would go into an issue committee
(slush fund) to promote city council ballot issues.

Lyn
Lyn
6 years ago
Reply to  readmylips

So the candidate gets to decide where to apply the leftover funds? It’s his/her choice..

What happens to the funds now?

This sounds like something that someone will eventually abuse.. Sorry to be so untrusting.

parched
parched
6 years ago
Reply to  Lyn

After much research, it turns out that Aurora’s Municipal Code right now allows a number of ways to spend leftover candidate campaign money after an election and after expenses are paid. The ordinance this article is about and that City Attorney Michael J. Hyman approved refers to the Code’s Aritice IV, Section 54-102(a) that currently says that after a campaign, unexpended (that is, unspent) campaign contributions to a CANDIDATE COMMITTEE may be spent in 4 ways. (1) “Contributed to a political party” — which I will elaborate on in a separate post. (2) “Donated to a CHARITABLE organization….” (3) “RETURNED to the contributors, or RETAINED by the committee FOR use by the candidate in” ANOTHER city campaign, including RECALL election. (4) “Contributed to a campaign committee of the SAME CANDIDATE for a DIFFERENT” city POSITION.

But, it is important to note that Section 54-102(c) states that additionally, an elected official, “while in office, may use unexpended campaign contributions held by the person’s CANDIDATE COMMITTEE for…” (1) “Voter registration. (2) POLITICAL ISSUE EDUCATION, which includes obtaining information from or providing information to the electorate.” (3) Post-secondary education SCHOLARSHIPS. (4) For reasonable expenses for mailings and similar communications to constituents. (5) Any expenses related to the elected official’s duties, including, but not limited to, office equipment and supplies, room rental for public meetings, travel and lodging for legislative education such as seminars on legislative issues, and phone expenses.

parched
parched
6 years ago

Currently, Aurora allows unexpended campaign contributions to a Candidate Committee* to be contributed to a political Party. But, at Council Study Session last Monday, six wisely voted to strike this option that was merely copied from rules of State when writing Aurora’s overriding campaign rules. And there were no objections to moving it forward to formal Council meeting vote – possibly Monday, November 23.

It is all well and good for State rules to allow unspent campaign contributions to be given to a political Party – after all, in State elections, people donating to a candidate campaign know what party the candidate is supporting and hopes to receive support from. But that’s not the same in nonpartisan municipalities. Remember, Aurora’s ballots never list a candidate’s registered party, and candidates are not allowed to identify their party.

THANK YOU to the six who voted to strike, and PLEASE stay strong in your choice to uphold Aurora’s nonpartisanship. Those supporting Councilmember Barbara Cleland (At-Large) in her motion to strike are: Bob Broom (Ward 6), Steve Hogan (Mayor), Bob LeGare (At-Large), Molly Markert (Ward IV), and Renie Peterson (Ward II). Hopefully remaining councilmembers, having
had more time to consider, will realize that striking this option is a sign of Council’s nonpartisanship.

*Note: CANDIDATE COMMITTEE consists of the candidate, and could also include other people who together receive contributions and pay expenses per the candidate’s wishes.