Swing State Confidential: Colorado – Chamber & NEA Join the Fray


Denver, CO–I’m watching political ads airing on television news every morning here in the swing state of Colorado and following the money that put them there.

Today’s crop from 35 minutes of viewing, this time for Denver’s channel 9, the local NBC affiliate: ten ads total; four issue ads by outside groups including what appear to be new forays into Colorado races by the Chamber of Commerce and the NEA Advocacy Fund; three independent expenditure ads from Republican party committees, and three ads bought by candidates’ campaign committees. Several of the ads are repeats from yesterday‘s viewing session.

8:26 a.m. Ken Buck wants to take away money from schools, cut teachers, increase class sizes. The NEA Advocacy Fund paid for the ad.  It appears to be an issue ad, as opposed to an independent expenditure–according to my notes, it doesn’t specifically say to vote against Buck (But the ad went fast and I can’t find a copy on the Internet). No expenditures by the NEA Advocacy Fund, which is associated with the National Education Association, the teacher’s union, have been reported yet for Colorado, so I’m probably seeing one of the first runs of the ad. (Edited to add: since writing this earlier in the day, the Fund is now reporting $1.4 million in spending against Buck.) The NEA Advocacy Fund has filed paperwork with the FEC to be an “independent expenditure only” committee that can take unlimited contributions from corporations or unions, a new kind of entity made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United. The group also files as a political group known as a 527 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); its latest disclosure reports, which cover the period through September 30, show an infusion of $475,000 from–the National Education Association. Sunlight CAM link here.

8:29 a.m. Sen. Michael Bennet wants me to know that special interests like big oil and insurance companies think Colorado is for sale. They are spending millions to elect his opponent, Ken Buck. Colorado is not for sale, and neither is Michael Bennet. The ad is paid for by the Michael Bennet campaign. Sunlight CAM link here.

8:35 a.m. Ken Buck was investigated for ethics, he let a gun dealer off the hook. I saw this same ad yesterday on CBS; the issue ad is part of a reported $730,000 ad buy by Public Campaign Action Fund’s Campaign Money Watch, a group that advocates for public financing of elections; the most recent filings by the 527 political group with the IRS do not reveal any significant donations. Sunlight CAM link here.

8:36 a.m.: A campaign ad from the Ed Perlmutter campaign claiming his opponent, Ryan Frazier, had a poor attendance record in local office and that his company helps outsource jobs. The Democratic incumbent, Perlmutter has more cash on hand than Frazier to pay for such ads, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Cook Political Report rates the seat as “lean Democratic.” Sunlight CAM link here.

No break–straight into an issue ad on Democrat Rep. Betsy Markey, paid for by the Chamber of Commerce. We told her we needed jobs, and she didn’t listen, says the narrator. She voted for government take over of health care, and now she wants an energy tax. “Call Betsy Markey and tell her to listen.” The Chamber, recently under attack by Democrats for allegedly taking foreign money for its political operations, has not yet reported spending any money on the Markey ad, so this must be new. Sunlight CAM link here. (Edited to add: the Chamber is now reporting $250,ooo in expenditures against Markey.)

8:42 a.m. “One vote makes a difference,” says the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC)  and Michael Bennet’s “deciding” votes brought us expensive policies. This is the same ad I saw yesterday.  So far the NRSC has reported spending $1.6 million against Bennet. Look for Bennet ads on Sunlight CAM here.

8:43 a.m. An ad from the Ryan Frazier campaign attacking his opponent, Perlmutter. Frazier says he wants to create jobs and Perlmutter hasn’t. I saw this ad yesterday, too. Frazier ads on Sunlight CAM are here.

Straight into what appears to be an issue ad on Michael Bennet by American Crossroads, which has benefited from the fundraising prowess of GOP operative Karl Rove. The ad focuses on a “Wall Street gamble” that Bennet promoted with the local school board that cost taxpayers; Bennet also took money for his campaign from these same Wall Street bankers.” Michael Bennet should work for us, not Wall Street.” American Crossroads has reported spending $3.4 million all opposing Bennet. See Bennet ads on Sunlight CAM here.

8:55 a.m. Another ad from yesterday: the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) piece blasting Democrat Betsy Markey. There’s one party that has absolute power in Washington, and Markey has voted the “Pelosi party line.” She’s gone “too far, too fast.” “Replace Betsy Markey.” Sunlight CAM link here.

9:00 a.m. The “One vote makes a difference ad” that ran fifteen minutes before attacking Michael Bennet, from the NRSC.

Tomorrow morning I’ll tune my channel to ABC and report on what I see.