Citizens can use political speech to endorse, or to speak out against, candidates in campaigns. But winning elections today takes more than citizens' speech, it takes millions of dollars for advertisements.
So the question today is, can citizens (or corporations) speak with their dollars to fund advertisements? Is money speech? A recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, said yes. Some of the blame for the inundation of negative political TV ads can be put on this decision.
This has resounding effects for Colorado politics. Midterm elections are approaching, and it's important to know which candidates are taking money from which corporations, political action committees and Wall Street banks. Once elected, who will our elected representatives be indebted to?
Campaign finance advocates are pushing for legislation currently in the House and Senate to reform the financing freedoms created by Citizens United. Supporters of the DISCLOSURE Act in the Senate recently failed at an attempt to counter a Republican filibuster of the bill. The House version of the bill, the Fair Elections Now Act, is making its way through committees.
If passed, this bill would only affect federal-level House seat races.
Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck are in the race for Colorado’s open Senate seat this midterm cycle. According to OpenSecrets.org, Bennet and Buck have raised $7.7 million and $1.3 million, respectively.
In the race for Colorado governor, Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper is leading American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo and Republican candidate Dan Maes in fundraising.
In addition to OpenSecrets, there are other online resources, like State Bill Colorado, to understand campaign finance issues in Colorado.
The Elections Division of the Colorado’s Office of the Secretary of State has its own resource for tracking campaign contributions and expenditures for state-level offices, a program called TRACER.