Amendment 65: Colorado's push for campaign-finance limits wins in landslide

Colorado voters -- and even small children -- were exposed to a seemingly absurd amount of political advertising this year in a battleground state that wound up not being a key to President Barack Obama's victory.

Perhaps that is why residents overwhelmingly passed the state's other measure on the ballot, Amendment 65, a mostly symbolic initiative that calls for campaign-finance limits.

Amendment 65, which made it onto the ballot in September, calls on the Colorado Congressional Delegation to support campaign-finance limits. It doesn't really get more specific than that or yield any actual changes in Colorado at this time.

Why not? Supporters of campaign finance reform can't actually push changes at the state level, largely due to the infamous 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which held that under the First Amendment of the federal constitution, government could not restrict independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. In order to implement some kind of limit on spending, then, a constitutional amendment would have to be ratified.

Still, Amendment 65 supporters say the measure can have a tangible impact. They believe its passage is a strong statement from Colorado voters, as well as a useful tool for good-government groups to pressure the Colorado delegation to take up this cause and push forward a federal amendment. That's a first step in a major effort for reform, they say.

According to the latest results from the Secretary of State's office, Amendment 65 passed with support from 73.83 percent of residents, with only 26.17 voting no. Across the state, that accounts for 1,677,145 residents voting yes and only 594,455 voting no (with, as of this writing, 55 of 64 counties reporting).

But what is more striking than the raw numbers is its broad support statewide. It appears to have passed by wide margins in every Colorado county.

"It's super exciting. Landslide, I think, is an understatement," says Danny Katz, director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, or CoPIRG, a statewide advocacy group and one of the proponents of the amendment. "I don't think there's a single county below 60 percent -- even the most conservative counties."

The results speak for themselves, he says. "It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican. It doesn't matter if you live in a city or on a farm. Everonye can agree, in one of the most divisive elections we've seen, we've got to get big money out of our elections.... Everyone can come together on this particular issue."

CoPIRG was a proponent of this measure alongside Colorado Common Cause, with support from Colorado Fair Share Alliance, which helped collect signatures.

Continue for more details on the measure and political spending in Colorado.

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Sam Levin
Contact: Sam Levin

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