Colorado politicians magnets for gun contributions


Despite suffering two of the worst gun killings in the nation's history–Columbine and now the "Batman" shootings–Colorado, with its cowboy swagger and reputation for independence, has long been home to supporters of gun rights. And its politicians, mostly Republicans, but some Democrats as well, have been magnets for contributions from gun rights groups, benefiting from more than $3.8 million in political spending since 1989, according to a search on Influence Explorer.

In contrast, gun control groups have spent $140,342 in the state for federal and state campaigns. Of that amount, $48,000 came from the group Colorado Ceasefire, whose spokesman, Dan Mauser, lost his son, Daniel, in the 1999 Columbine shootings that left 12 teenagers and one teacher dead at the hands of students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. The group describes itself as "the only gun safety group in Colorado which endorses and supports candidates for elected office." The bulk of the rest of the spending came the Brady Campaign to prevent Gun Violence.

(MORE: Gun interests spend millions to influence lawmakers)

Nearly half of the pro-gun money was spent in the 2010 elections: The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun rights groups poured $1.58 million into the Senate race pitting Republican challenger Ken Buck against Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet. The NRA and Gun Owners of America spent the lion's share of this money on ads like the one below supporting Buck. This time it was to no avail: Bennet won the election.

Bennet did get $117,540 worth of support from a pro-hunting group called the Bullmoose Sportsmen's Alliance, which recently thanked him for introducing an amendment to the farm bill that would allow bowhunters to cross national park lands to get to hunting lands nearby.

Freshmen lawmakers in Colorado's congressional delegation have gotten help from gun rights groups and individuals affiliated with them. Rep. Cory Gardner, who defeated Democrat Betsy Markey in 2010, has benefited from $14,139 in pro-gun rights donations. Rep. Scott Tipton has benefited from $11,704 from gun groups and related individuals since 2009. Democratic former Rep. John Salazar, whom Tipton defeated, also got help from the NRA and other groups. Indeed, Salazar won the NRA's endorsement in his failed 2010 race. Between 2003 and 2010, he benefited from $17,951 from pro-gun rights groups.

The other two Republican members of Colorado's delegation have also gotten support from gun rights groups: Rep. Doug Lamborn, $37,188;  and Mike Coffman, $15,000.

Meanwhile, gun control groups have concentrated their money on Democrats, donating to Sen. Mark Udall ($5,239) and Reps. Ed Perlmutter ($5,800), Diana DeGette ($6,250) and Jared Polis ($500).