By Laura Carno
Do voters deserve to be educated on who is funding Issue 2C?
I have previously written about Colorado Springs Issue 2C and have been running a small campaign against it. My position is that government at any level should never come to the voters asking for more money until they have turned over every stone looking for alternatives. I don’t think Colorado Springs politicians have done that. There are some people who think that the politicians have done everything they could before putting 2C on the ballot. Reasonable people can disagree.
The pro-2C advocates have waged a high-dollar campaign to convince the voters that this sales tax increase is necessary —that it’s the only way to fix the roads. They have done this through TV and radio ads, mailers, robocalls from the Mayor, and paid canvassers to knock on doors. The Gazette also tried to help the 2C advocates by running a hit piece against me personally, digging through my past employment in an attempt to discredit me. I have also had numerous social media posts and profanity-laden emails accusing me of being funded by the Koch Brothers. I am not funded by the Koch Brothers. And community members, including at least one city council person, attacked me on social media, calling me an “out of town special-interest,” because I live in Black Forest.
Let me address that accusation. I live in Black Forest, just outside of Colorado Springs. The money I spend in Black Forest is limited to buying my coffee beans at R and R Coffee Café. If you haven’t been to Black Forest, CO, its business district is pretty small. Nearly all of my shopping is done in Colorado Springs. Nearly all of my sales taxes are paid in Colorado Springs, so the passage of 2C does affect me. In addition, I don’t get to vote against 2C, as I don’t live in the city limits. Even if the sales tax increase didn’t affect me personally, I have a First Amendment right to speak out against government action when I think it lacks integrity, thus my little campaign.
So on to the punch line —who is funding the Yes on 2C campaign? And what might they hope to gain from their contributions?
To start, as of the most recent campaign finance report filed October 30th, the primary group funding the Yes campaign —Springs Citizens Building the Future— had raised over $387,000. To be clear, they have outspent me by almost 50-1. I’m not complaining about this. Part of our First Amendment right to speak out politically is our right to raise more than the other side, and get our persuasive argument out there. I have almost always been outspent in campaigns I’ve run. That’s the way it goes.
But let’s look at who comprises that $387,000.
There are your average citizen donors. Great, they are participating in their local government, just like I am.
Would it surprise you to know that 76% of the dollars donated came from developers, construction industry companies, and other large companies? Issue 2C is slated to fix the roads in Colorado Springs. I wonder what road construction companies could possibly hope to gain from their big donations? I’m hoping they aren’t expecting preferential treatment in bidding on the roadwork. If 2C passes, we expect to see a transparent, competitive bidding process.
The construction industry alone contributed over $168,000. A quick look at just those over $5,000:
|Associated General Contractors of Colorado||15,000.00|
|Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association||10,000.00|
|Martin Marietta Aggregates||10,000.00|
|Pikes Peak Electrical Partnership||10,000.00|
|Transit Mix Concrete Co||10,000.00|
|Kiewit Infrastructure Co||5,000.00|
|Colorado Construction Industry Coalition||5,000.00|
|Rocky Mountain District Council No. 5||5,000.00|
|CAMPC Opportunity Fund||5,000.00|
|Rocky Mountain Materials & Asphalt, Inc.||5,000.00|
Remember those people who wrongly attacked me for being funded by the Koch Brothers? Are they OK with these donations?
And remember those people, including a city council person, who attacked me for being an out of town special-interest? Three of the above organizations are in the Denver–Metro area and one is in Raleigh, NC. There are even more out of town companies who donated amounts below $5,000. And we haven’t heard a peep from my critics.
I don’t blame these companies for their donations. The proponents of 2C are actively seeking these donations. They and the city leaders are also responsible.
If you are voting for 2C, make sure you have all the facts. Road construction companies and developers really want 2C to pass, and are putting significant amounts of money behind it to make sure it passes. If this kind of cronyism is OK with you, please vote yes on 2C.
If you are as concerned as I am that big companies are trying to buy this election, thereby enhancing their chances of personally profiting from your increased taxes, then vote no on 2C.
Don’t trust me on these astounding numbers. If you’d like to see more information about donors on both sides of the issue, all of the detail is available at the City of Colorado Springs website.
I challenge the Colorado Springs media to educate voters on who exactly is trying to buy this election to pass Issue 2C. Don’t you think voters deserve to know this?