Members of the Hasan family, the wealthy backers of Colorado GOP causes, whose award of a $300,000 fellowship to Scott McInnis erupted last week in a plagiarism scandal, are also the largest single donors to three tax-cutting initiatives on the November ballot.
The measures -- Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 -- have been charged with controversy, in part because of the unusual secrecy surrounding the financial backing of the joint campaign.
Several candidates the Hasans have supported in the past, including foundering gubernatorial hopeful McInnis, have denounced the proposals as too drastic in their budget impacts. Proponents of 60-61-101 are being heavily outspent by a coalition of unions, bond dealers, commerce associations and other interests, which has raised a war chest in excess of $1.5 million to defeat the measures.
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The latest campaign finance reports filed with the Colorado Secretary of State indicate that Muhammad Ali Hasan, former Westword cover dude, donated $5,000 to the 60-61-101 campaign shortly before announcing his departure from Colorado on his Facebook page (he's headed back to the film business in LA). His mother, Seeme Hasan, made another $5,000 contribution to the campaign in May.
That's a modest nudge compared to the $300,000 the Hasan Family Foundation paid McInnis for his "Musings on Water," but the two checks represent the largest donations by far to the grassroots, small-check initiative campaign -- the largest disclosed donations, anyway. Last month, an administrative law judge fined the proponents for failing to report who paid for their petitions and website and has ordered the group to provide more detailed information about its funding sources.
Operating from the shadows has made it difficult for 60-61-101 supporters to keep up with the publicity blitz by opponents, who are forecasting an economic apocalypse if the measures pass. Although campaign coordinator Natalie Menten spoke to Westword about the campaign and has been peppering newspapers with letters rebutting op/ed statements, the Denver Post claims it couldn't reach any proponent to interview for its latest article blasting Amendment 61, which would impose strict new limits on government debt. The lopsided piece is essentially a string of quotes from Denver officials calling the amendment, which would cap the city's debt capacity at $1.1. billion (versus the current $1.3 billion), a crippling, job-killing "catastrophe."
The backers of 60-61-101 have preferred to meet such attacks with broadsides of their own on their website -- an "anonymous" website that proponents have testified was set up without their knowledge and which has been linked to anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce.