9/17/08

Out-of-state union cash colors Colorado ballot

Related story: "The 28 labor-states" • More worker-choice stories: here

Centennial State is Ground Zero for organized labor in '08

More than $6 million flowed into the campaigns for and against the state ballot measures during the past two weeks, and not a dime was from oil and gas companies. Almost all of the money came from fewer than a dozen donors, ranging from unions to casinos to auto dealers, campaign-finance filings show.

In all, the campaigns for the 18 statewide ballot measures took in about $6.1 million between Aug. 28 and Sept. 10. It brings the total donated so far to more than $38 million, almost triple the previous record of $14 million collected by ballot campaigns in 2004.

Most of the recent money has been spent on television and radio ads, the filings show.

"It's the most expensive election in the state's history," said Dan Hopkins, spokesman for Coloradans for a Stable Economy. The group is fighting a measure to eliminate a tax credit on the state's severance tax.

The group, backed by energy companies, has collected the most money overall, $10 million, but raised nothing during the last two weeks.

The supporters of the measure, A Smarter Colorado, took in about $438,000 during the two weeks, thanks to $250,000 from Connecticut hedge fund owner Paul Tudor Jones.

Jones, one of the richest men in the U.S., is known for correctly picking market downturns. George Merritt, spokesman for A Smarter Colorado, said Jones is involved in education and environmental issues as a philanthropist.

Top donors to state ballot issues

The following nine contributors accounted for almost 90 percent of the $6.1 million collected by the campaigns for and against the 18 statewide issues on the November ballot:

* United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 7: $3.2 million to Coloradans for Middle Class Relief, which opposes the "right to work" Amendment 47.

* Metro Denver Auto Dealers Association: $500,000 to Coloradans for Responsible Reform, which opposes several pro-labor ballot measures.

* Isle of Capris casino in Black Hawk: $441,354 to Coloradans for Community Colleges, which is backing a measure to increase betting limits.

* Paul Tudor Jones, a Connecticut hedge fund manager: $250,000 to A Smarter Colorado, which backs Amendment 58 to eliminate a tax credit against the state severance tax.

* National Education Association: $250,000 to SAFE Colorado, which backs Amendment 59 to set aside state surplus funds for education.

* Denver Foundation: $220,000 to SAFE Colorado.

* Free Enterprise Alliance in Virginia: $180,000 to A Better Colorado, which backs Amendment 47.

* AFL-CIO: $100,000 to Protect Colorado's Future, which opposes Amendment 47.

* Colorado Education Association: $100,000 to Protect Colorado's Future.

(rockymountainnews.com)

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