Petition war update: Cash rolling in to fight tax-slashing measures

This week's cover story, "Signed, Sealed, Rejected," explores the costs, intrigues and legal hurdles involved in getting citizen initiatives on the ballot in Colorado -- and the massive campaign underway to defeat three controversial antitax measures this fall.

That effort just got more massive, according to a campaign finance report submitted since the issue went to press.

The latest filing by the opposition indicates its war chest now stands at more than $1.5 million, a fifty percent leap in just the past month.

The three initiatives -- amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 -- propose to reduce property taxes, prohibit "future borrowing" by state government, and ratchet down auto registration fees, telecom taxes and state income taxes. The backers have come under fire from an administrative law judge for failing to disclose the hush-hush sources of their funding (the name Douglas Bruce has been bandied about quite a bit in the flap) and violating campaign finance law.

A wide range of opponents, from union leaders to bond dealers to the Denver Post, have predicted economic disaster if any of the measures pass, saying they would cripple school districts and make it impossible to finance many infrastructure projects. For more on these arguments, go here; for the proponents' rebuttal, go here, to the "anonymous" website that's been a sore issue in the campaign finance investigation.

The main opposition group, Coloradans For Responsible Reform, has collected hefty donations from plenty of interested parties, including a cool half-million from the Denver Chamber of Commerce. Here are the top ten opposition donors to date:

Denver Chamber of Commerce $500,000

Colorado Contractors Association $170,000

Kaiser Foundation $100,000

CO Municipal Bond Dealers $100,000

George K. Baum & Co. $ 50,000

Compass Bank $ 50,000

D.A. Davidson & Co. $ 50,000

Kutak Rock $ 50,000

Stifel Nicholas $ 50,000

RBC Capital Markets $ 50,000

The latest report from the proponent organization Colorado Tax Reforms lists just $496 in monetary contributions in the past month. Although administrative law judge Robert Spencer ordered the proponents to disclose all their contributions within twenty days, the group also has 45 days to appeal that decision.