‘Millionaire’ rule triggered in local race for Congress | VailDaily.com

‘Millionaire’ rule triggered in local race for Congress

George Merritt
Associated Press

DENVER, Colorado – A personal contribution of $50,000 has sparked an exchange of jabs in an one of the nation’s most expensive congressional races, and opened the door for triple contributions for at least one candidate.

EntrepreneurJared Polis notified his Democratic rivals in the 2nd Congressional District Tuesday that he tripped a threshold in campaign finance law governing personally financed campaigns. Polis has now given his own campaign just over $398,000.

The move triggers an advantage for fellow candidate Will Shafroth under the 2002 law know as the “millionaire’s amendment” aimed at leveling the playing field for candidates with less personal wealth.

Shafroth will now be able to triple the limit of individual contributions to his campaign ” allowing him to collect $6,900 from any person, rather than the usual $2,300 limit.

Polis’ contribution drew swift criticism from fellow candidate Joan Fitz-Gerald’s campaign, charging that Polis had broken a pledge to not spend more than $350,000 of his own money.

Polis did sign a federal form saying he did not “intend” to spend more than $350,000 last year, but his campaign said it was not a pledge. Polis’ spokeswoman Dayna Hanson said the latest contribution came in response to special interest contributions to the Fitz-Gerald campaign.

Polis’ campaign said his personal contributions are not enough to trigger an advantage for Fitz-Gerald because of the amount of money she has been able to raise.

“I don’t even know why Joan Fitz-Gerald put out a press release on it,” Hanson said. “It doesn’t even affect her.”

Campaign contributions are a key factor in the Democratic dominated congressional race to replace Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colorado. The race has ranked among the most expensive in the nation. Through the end of last year, Polis raised more than $1 million, Fitz-Gerald raised nearly $880,000 and Shafroth brought in nearly $750,000.

Polis’ spokeswoman said it was a coincidence that the $50,000 contribution did not benefit Fitz-Gerald.

“We put in an even amount of money,” Hanson said. “It wasn’t trying to see who it’s going to affect.”

But Fitz-Gerald’s campaign wasn’t buying it.

“After he didn’t tell the truth on his pledge to not break the limit, who would believe him now that they didn’t take the time and the energy to calculate the number,” Fitz-Gerald campaign manager Mary Alice Mandarich said.

She noted that the law is so complicated the campaign was still calculating whether they would be affected.

“How would (the Polis campaign) even know, because we don’t know,” Mandarich said.

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