Broomfield currently has no contribution limits for candidates or any type of committees.
The Broomfield City Council wants to create campaign finance limits and implement a stricter reporting period for municipal elections.
Councilmember William Lindstedt initiated the conversation in December, with many councilmembers agreeing it’s long overdue. Broomfield currently has no contribution limits for candidates or any type of committees.
While other municipalities have implemented additional reporting requirements, Broomfield follows the reporting periods required by state statute.
City and county Clerk Erika Delaney Lew said during the Tuesday evening study session that Broomfield campaign finance limitations and reporting is guided by the Colorado Constitution, the state Fair Campaign Practices Act, the Colorado Secretary of State Campaign Political Finance Manual and the Broomfield Campaign Finance Guide.
The state contribution limit for County Commissioners is $1,250 per election cycle, Delaney Lew explained, which doesn’t apply to Broomfield as a Home Rule city. Still, various Home Rule cities along the Front Range have enacted additional contribution limits, ranging from $75 for a council campaign and $100 for a mayoral campaign in Fort Collins to $500 for a district seat and $750 for an at-large seat in Arvada.
Delaney Lew noted Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Northglenn and Thornton have not adopted contribution limits.
In Broomfield, the vast majority of contributions are to candidate committees, city and county staff wrote in a memo to Council, which represent candidates running for the Council. In 2019 four out of 1,866 contributions were made to non-candidate committees. In the same year, there were 59 Major Contribution Reports filed with contributions larger than $1,000, which accounted for 3.2% of the total number of donations, the memo states.
In 2021 there were 1,321 donations made with 1,253 sent to candidate committees. Of donations to candidate committees 1,195 were under $1,000; 38 donations were between $1,000-$2,499; 11 donations were between $2,500-$4,999; eight donations were between $5,000-$9,999 and one donation was larger than $10,000, the memo shows.
According to campaign finance records, Ben Vagher donated $10,000 to Groom4Broomfield, former councilmember and mayoral candidate Kimberly Groom’s campaign.
Financial reporting requirements differ based on the type of committee, whether the committee or candidate is on the ballot and based on the contribution amount, the City Council memo explains.
According to the state filing schedule, reports are due 21 days before the election, the Friday before the election and 30 days after the election for entities on the ballot. For those not on the ballot, reports are due annually on the first day of the month of the anniversary of the election. Unscheduled reports include Major Contribution Reports, which are due within 24 hours, and Independent Expenditure reports, which are due within 48 hours for contributions or expenditures greater than $1,000 in the 30 days before and 30 days after the election, the memo states.
Various municipalities have increased the required number of campaign finance reports, which come with deadlines in addition to the state’s standard three deadlines. The city of Boulder requires finance reports to be filed 42, 28 and 14 days before the election, the Thursday before the election rather than the Friday before, and then 30 and 60 days after the election, the memo shows.
The city of Denver requires additional reporting in the fourth, third and second months before the election and then every two weeks until the election.
“This is an issue that has received bipartisan criticism over the years, with our reporting periods especially,” Lindstedt said Tuesday. “I think the public and the press and the community deserve to know who’s funding City Council campaigns early and more regularly. We need to clean it up.”
Lindstedt said he liked Denver’s finance filing schedule and said he felt $1,250 was a fair limit for contribution limits.
Councilmember Todd Cohen said he supported a contribution limit. He said that without a limit, it discourages residents without unlimited funds from getting involved. Using his phone’s calculator, Cohen said he calculated about 2% of contributors donated about 34% of the money.
The majority of the Council spoke in favor of the $1,250 limit and Denver’s reporting requirements.
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