Limiting the amount of money that a campaign can legally accept is one of the most commonsense solutions to ensuring that our elected officials represent the people—not special interests. Setting and enforcing these limits requires candidates to build support from a broad base of voters, instead of solely relying on a few major donors to write big checks.

In 2002, Colorado voters took an important step in limiting campaign contributions by passing Amendment 27. This amendment sets reasonable contribution limits: $200 per election for legislative candidates and $550 per election for statewide candidates. The law also banned direct contributions from corporations and labor unions directly to candidate campaigns.

However, these restrictions do not apply to all local and state races here in Colorado. There are currently no restrictions on how much money candidates running for school board in Colorado can accept from outside sources. The result is that these elections are increasingly becoming flooded with special interest money.

Each year, Colorado Common Cause fights for stronger contribution limits at our state Capitol. We will continue to prioritize this work, while simultaneously fighting for stronger disclosure laws and public campaign financing.


Citizen Funded Elections:

Across the country, Americans running for local, state and federal office are routinely asked the same initial question. It’s not about their issues, passion for their community, or past accomplishments.

Instead, it’s about funding: “How much money can you raise?”

Unfortunately, an ability to generate funding—either from wealthy donors, special interest groups, or other sources—has become an essential requirement to run for office. And it doesn’t stop once a candidate is elected. Op-eds written by elected officials lament the time they must spend asking for money—which is increasingly taking up more and more of their day.

Then there are the other problems that stem from money in politics. Candidates can feel beholden to their top donors, who essentially use their money to purchase political access. Less wealthy communities that would not yield high campaign contributions are ignored by representatives.

Perhaps the most unfortunate result is that passionate, capable individuals who would make phenomenal advocates for their communities are deterred from running for office.

Is there any hope for change? We think so. New, innovative campaign finance systems are springing up in cities throughout the country. These programs incentivize candidates to rely on individuals—as opposed to wealthy special interests—to fund their campaigns.

Citizen-funded election systems mean:

  • More ordinary people are able to run for public office
  • Candidates spend more time listening to and meeting with their constituents, instead of consistently focusing on raising big money from just a handful of donors
  • Elected officeholders are reflective of the community at large and share similar values and experiences with everyday voters
  • Elected officials are less indebted to a narrow set of big money funders, and are more accountable to all voters
  • Policies and laws are more responsive to public needs and less skewed by wealthy special interests

A robust public financing campaign system cuts the corrupting influence of private campaign contributions out of our democracy. Let’s bring balance to our democracy, making it accountable to We The People, ensuring everyone has an equal voice and equal say.


Disclosure and Transparency:

Colorado has some of the strongest campaign finance disclosure laws in the country. This means that state campaigns must tell the Colorado Secretary of State about the origin of every dollar that they receive—and how their campaign spends this money. This information is available to the public via the Colorado Secretary of State’s campaign finance database.

In 2002, Colorado voters added campaign finance disclosure requirements into our state constitution through Amendment 27. Colorado Common Cause led the campaign to author, qualify, and pass this amendment—which also included provisions limiting campaign contributions and spending. In 2016 we secured another disclosure victory with the passage of Senate Bill 1282, which requires candidates running for school board to abide by the same disclosure laws as other candidates running for state office in Colorado.

Although we have done much to ensure that Coloradans can “follow the money” in our state elections, we still have work to do. Since the disastrous Citizens United ruling, dark money has increasingly infiltrated state and local races in Colorado. This money comes from nonprofit organizations who are not obligated to release their donors to the public—making the money they spend untraceable to flesh-and-blood humans.

We will continue to fight to ensure that all money spent on elections in Colorado is disclosed and readily available to the public.

Next Campaign

Citizen-Funded Elections