Campaign spending adds up in local races | VailDaily.com

Campaign spending adds up in local races

EAGLE COUNTY — Searching the state's campaign finance databases is often an exercise in the familiar. Most local campaigns are fueled in large part by relatively small contributions from residents. But there are some exceptions.

The biggest exception in this year's look through campaign finance reports is what isn't there — specifically, the campaign for Eagle County Ballot Issue 1A. That's the Eagle County-sponsored initiative asking voters for a .3 percent sales tax increase to fund workforce housing.

While 1A was put on the ballot by the Eagle County Commissioners, the campaign is being handled by the Vail Valley Partnership, the valleywide chamber of commerce.

According to Partnership CEO Chris Romer, chambers are able to do campaign advocacy "directly associated to their mission" without the requirement to form a committee or report spending.

Workforce housing falls in that category.

The valley's other significant ballot questions are issues 3A and 3B, a pair of tax increase proposals for Eagle County Schools. If passed, the proposals will fund raises for teachers, upgraded instructional materials and a multi-million-dollar building renovation program. That program is intended to upgrade facilities for a growing student population and handle a long backlog of deferred maintenance for the district's buildings.

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That issue's support committee is Citizens for Exceptional Eagle County Schools. As of the Oct. 18 reporting date, that group had raised almost $31,000 in contributions and had spent slightly more than $8,000.

Big contributions

A look down that committee's contribution list shows private individuals, school board members — who can contribute and advocate all they want, as long as no taxpayer funds are used — and district employees. But some substantial contributions have come from other sources.

Vail Resorts contributed $7,000 to the campaign, and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis sent $250.

The school tax proposal has also drawn interest from construction companies, architects and planners.

The two biggest contributions came from Adolfson & Peterson Construction — $3,000 — and a $2,000 from Haselden Construction.

There's plenty of corporate support for State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat who represents Eagle and Routt counties in the Colorado Legislature.

Mitsch Bush, who is running for her third term in the legislature, has a lengthy contribution list. It includes scores of residents from those counties, as well as a number of contributions from statewide political action committees.

Those contributions have come from Well Fargo's committee, as well as the committees of energy companies ConocoPhillips, Atmos and PDC.

Contributions have also come from a committee created by the Associated General Contractors and the Construction Cooperative Council.

Other contributions have come from the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Doctors Small Donors Committee, Colorado Climate Action and the political committee of Holland & Hart, a large, Denver-based law firm.

As of the Oct. 18 reporting period, Mitsch Bush's campaign had raised nearly $72,000 and spent $48,500.

Michael Cacioppo, the Eagle County Republican challenging Mitsch Bush, has said he won't accept any contributions from political action committees or corporate donors, and he hasn't.

With the exception of a $1,750 contribution from the Routt County Republican Party, Cacioppo's contributions all come from district residents.

As of Oct. 18, Cacioppo had raised slightly more than $15,400 and spent $14,995.

More balanced spending

The spending is more balanced in races for county offices.

As of Oct. 18, the spending was virtually even in the race for Eagle County Treasurer.

Incumbent Mari Renzelman is a Republican who was appointed to the post following the retirement of longtime treasurer Karen Sheaffer.

Renzelman as of Oct. 18 had raised $4,100 and spent slightly more than $2,800.

Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton, a Democrat, is also seeking the treasurer's seat.

Simonton had raised $4,225 and spend $2,616 as of Oct. 18.

The Eagle County Commissioner race in District 2 — which covers, roughly, Eagle to Edwards — has seen a bit more spending from the challenger.

Republican Rick Beveridge as of Oct. 18 had raised $9,490 and spent slightly less than $7,800.

Incumbent Kathy Chandler-Henry, a Democrat, had raised just more than $10,100 and spend just more than $6,150.

Chandler-Henry's biggest single contributor is Cordillera resident Richard Rothkopf, who has donated $1,500 to her campaign.

There's also a race in Commissioner District 1, which runs from, roughly, Avon to the eastern part of the county. That race also has a Democratic incumbent, Jill Ryan, and a Republican challenger, Michael Dunahay.

The biggest single contribution to Ryan's campaign — $1,000 — also came from Rothkopf.

As of Oct. 18, Ryan had raised nearly $10,600 and spent $8,150

Dunahay had raised $1,825 and spent $6,669.

Oct. 31 is the final reporting period before the Nov. 8 general election.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.

Notable donors

• Colorado Conservation Action Fund: $1,000 in aggregate to State Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush.

• ConocoPhillips Spirit Political Action Committee: $400 in aggregate to Mitsch Bush.

• Vail Resorts: $7,000 to Citizens for Exceptional Eagle County Schools.

• U.S. Rep. Jared Polis: $250 to Citizens for Exceptional Eagle County Schools.

Source: Colorado Secretary of State’s campaign finance website.