Colorado civil unions groups boost November war chest

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August 16, 2012 | 3:02 pm
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 6:37 pm)

Two organizations working toward shifting the balance of the Colorado General Assembly to ensure next year’s passage of the Colorado Civil Union Act have beefed up their mutually exclusive war chests for a combined total of nearly $59,000.

While the organizations are mostly working independently of each other, statewide LGBT advocacy organization One Colorado and independent expenditure committee Fight Back Colorado share a goal: win enough House races so that come January 2013, Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, is demoted to the back bench.

Taking on the role of good cop is One Colorado and its small donor committee, which raised $15,000 from more than 400 donors between June and July, according to campaign finance reports filed with the secretary of state’s office.

That money will be used exclusively to support pro-equality candidates determined by One Colorado’s PAC, said the organization’s Deputy Director Jace Woodrum.

The PAC’s board, comprised of about eight “community leaders, key stakeholders and partner organizations,” will release its endorsements in mid-September, he said.

While Woodrum said he’s excited to support a bipartisan slate of incumbents and candidates, don’t count on too many Republicans making the cut. In order for civil unions to become a reality here, Democrats must retain control of the state senate and take back the gavel in the House.

The Republican Party has controlled the House since winning a 33-32 majority in 2010.

The bill that would have established civil unions failed in that chamber three times since it was first introduced in 2011 by gay Denver Democrat state Sen. Pat Steadman.

There was hope the bill could reach the governor’s desk after three Republican members of the House helped move the bill through committees earlier this year. GOP leadership squashed the bill once it reached the full floor.

The bill died again during a special session called by Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

Tactics to kill the bill exercised by McNulty and his rank-and-file angered thousands of Coloradans and even more nationwide, civil union supporters claim.

Looking to harness that anger, assuming the role of bad cop is Fight Back Colorado, an organization modeled after a successful New York PAC that can raise an unlimited amount of money but cannot coordinate with any candidate.

Fight Back reported 61 donors made contributions totaling more than $43,000.

While slightly more than half of Fight Back’s donors live at a Colorado address, most of the money came from outside the Centennial state.

About $14,000, or 31 percent, was contributed from Coloradans. Donations ranged from $25 from Dean Lindsey to $5,000 from Alan Cooper.

Fight Back’s single largest donor during the July reporting period was Henry Van Ameringen, a New York-based philanthropist. He contributed $15,000.

Fight Back’s treasurer Roger Sherman said he isn’t concerned that most of the money came from out of state.

“We’re really happy with the level of support we’ve received,” he said. “We’re appreciative of every dollar that comes in. For us, the report we filed is a positive story.”

Fight Back will use the money it raises almost exclusively to attack lawmakers they believe will continue to stand in the way of relationship recognition.

“We’ll be using a whole menu of tactics,” Sherman said.

In an Aug. 1 email, Fight Back asked supporters to select three House Republicans they’d like to see booted from the gold dome. A short list was provided. Options include McNulty, Majority Leader Amy Stephens, Reps. Kevin Priola, Robert Ramirez and J. Paul Brown.

McNulty and Stephens most likely will not be directly targeted by Fight Back because their districts are Republican strongholds. However, multiple sources close to Fight Back and other progressive causes have singled out  Ramirez and Rep. J. Paul Brown, a Republican who represents Durango and surrounding counties.

Sherman told Out Front he expects Fight Back will announce who they plan to target by the end of the month. 

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