Colorado Senate District 32 Candidate Forum, 2.10.18

CleanSlateNow Action Question on Campaign Finance

Given the legacy in the overlapping districts where we are today of elected leaders like Lois Court (HD6, SD31), Pat Steadman (SD31), Irene Aguilar (SD32), Ken Gordon (HD6, SD35), Andrew Romanoff (HD6), and Paul Kashmann (Council District 6) who ran their campaigns and served in office without taking special interest money, what is your stance on taking special interest money for your campaign as opposed to relying on contributions from individuals and prioritizing the public interest over the special interest?

Risa White

"I’m only taking money from individuals in my campaign, I’m running a small budget, low-dollar campaign, because I think in a safe Democratic seat there’s no need for excessive fundraising to make this a race of resources. I think the best use of our time is actually to let the public fund campaigns that they believe in and not have private interest groups come in and fund them and make people feel like the reason they’re getting elected is because they’re backed by one source or another. I think publicly funded campaigns would be one of the best ways to restore the public’s trust in the democratic system and allow them to feel like their voice isn’t being drowned out by dollar signs. I think campaigns should stick to individual contributions or local organizations vs. large dark money or independent expenditures."

Robert Rodriguez

"Thank you for the question. I have taken a few PAC checks from leadership funds from elected leaders. I don’t see a problem with some of this stuff. I think Colorado has good limits on campaign funds – they can only give you $400. Small Donor Committees, if you’re talking labor unions and stuff like that, where they pool their money together, I don’t see a big problem with that. It costs money to run a campaign. You have to pay for a website, literature, staff, and pay them a living wage to live in Colorado. I think our big issue is the dark money and the independent expenditures where unlimited amounts of money pour into races, like we saw in the school board races where you have $200,000 campaigns for an unpaid position. I don’t think it takes people a lot to see where that stuff is going."

Hazel Gibson

"This is an interesting question. Thank you for asking. I do not believe all PACs are equal. I am a big supporter of women’s rights, so if Blue Flower wants to support me and make a contribution, I would take the money. However, I do believe in more transparency, especially on the independent expenditure side, and as well on the PAC side. We do need to see where the money is coming from and how it’s influencing our elections. Me, personally, I would love to sit here and say that I’m not taking PAC money. However, this is a big race. There are six of us. One of us is already over the $100,000 mark. So for me to sit here and say I’m not going to take PAC money would be to cut myself off at the knees. It’s great to talk about the changing the system, but you can only do that once you’re inside the system. You can’t do it from the outside."

Zach Neumann

"I think one of the greatest tragedies in constitutional law was the Citizens United decision. I think in a world where Citizens United is the norm and IEs can spend unlimited money on races, we’ve got to move toward a system of publicly funded elections. Beyond that, I think, in the interim period, where Citizens United is still the law of the land, we actually need to be raising campaign finance caps rather than lowering them. The reason for this is because at least that way money is coming into the system in a transparent way where you can look it up on the Secretary of State’s website, rather than having the majority of money in campaigns being spent by corporations, interest groups, lobbyists, through outside vehicles that we can’t even track until the mail shows up. So publicly funded elections is Goal No. 1, but in the absence of that, I think we need to be finding more ways to get legitimate money into the system where we as voters can see where it’s coming from, where it’s going to."

Peter Smith (through his written Candidate Survey)

"My campaign fully endorses moving to publically funded elections COUPLED with small-dollar contribution matching for individuals. This is one of three major tenets in my platform. Please read to learn more.

"My campaign is the strongest supporter of CleanStateNow’s initiatives in the District 32 senate race. One of my opponents has fundraised 90% out of state funds through lawyers and company executives to the sum of over $100,000. My other opponent uses his family establishment Democratic Party ties to forgo PAC and special interest regulations by accepting personal donations from PACs like Latino’s lead and other 501c3s. 

"I am the ONLY major candidate in this race to have accepted campaign spending to prove a point that there is too much money in our elections. Advocating for publically funded elections with a matching program for small donors is one of the three main tenets of my campaign and I am the only person educating the voters about the need for campaign finance reform. I also, after careful studying, pledge now to sponsor any legislation that fits the parameters of any of the solutions on CleanSlate’s Money and Issues page. 

"You will not achieve the goal of campaign finance reform if you endorse candidates that happily accept donations from all walks of life and who are a member of the donor elite and Harvard Ivy League donor class. Join me. Fight with me on this issue. Bestowing your endorsement upon me will guarantee a fierce ally in the Colorado state legislature that will be all ears when you need one, and an ally that is willing to go to the floor with the controversial reforms that my opponents will not." 

For detailed tracking of where candidates for Senate District 32 are getting their money click the box below.