Pro-civil union group raised $55,000 before going public
July 3, 2012 | 10:11 am
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 6:37 pm)
An independent expenditure committee with the explicit intent to dethrone Republican Speaker of the House Frank McNulty raised $55,000 before going public, according to campaign fiance reports filed with the Secretary of State.
Fight Back Colorado cashed two checks each for $25,000 from One Colorado, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, and Tim Gill, a Denver-based gay activist and philanthropist. The committee’s seed money also includes a $5,000 donation from Ted Snowdon, a theater producer from New York.
McNulty, of Highlands Ranch, is the person LGBT leaders from across the state — and nation — hold responsible for the death of the Colorado Civil Union Act.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Mark Ferrandino, has been killed three times in two years.
“The strategy that was employed by Speaker McNulty was rather puzzling,” said executive director of Gill Action, Kirk Fordham. “In the end he chose to expose his most vulnerable Republican members to a well-financed campaign against them that never would have materialized had they simply allowed a vote to take place.”
Gill Action is a nonprofit funded exclusively by Gill to promote pro-LGBT candidates and unseat those viewed as foes of equality.
The aim of the legislation is to extend most of the rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples. Supporters argue a civil union is a lesser-than compromise for relationship recognition. Opponents continue to cite the 2006 election when Coloradans voted to define marriage between a man and a woman while rejecting a referendum on designated beneficiaries.
Power of Colorado’s General Assembly has been shared by Democrats and Republicans for the last two years: Democrats have a 20-15 majority in the Senate, while Republicans hold the reigns of the House 33-32.
Bipartisan support has blessed the relationship recognition bill in the Senate but has been defeated in the House each time the issue has been brought up.
Earlier this year, Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, called for a special session of the legislature to debate the issue. The measure died on the first day.
The majority of the funds donated by One Colorado was raised by just a few email campaigns during the public meltdown of the House in the closing days of the regular session and into the special session, the organization’s Deputy Director Jace Woodrum confirmed.
“We saw a tremendous fundraising boost,” he said. “The events of May 8 sparked a lot of energy.”
Out Front previously reported One Colorado raised $10,000 the second-to-last night of the legislature’s regular session when the GOP held the House in recess for three hours, effectively killing the civil union bill.
Fight Back Colorado, was formed in part, simply to do something with the money.
“One Colorado was raising all of this money online,” Fordham said. “The question was, ‘how do we capture all of this energy and keep it alive to produced the desired outcome?’”
Fight Back Colorado is expected to announce which lawmakers it will target in the coming weeks. It is unlikely McNulty will be, himself, listed as a potential target. His seat, by all accounts, is a Republican-safe seat. Instead, Fight Back Colorado will go after lower-hanging fruit: a mixture of supporting Democrats in open seats and attacking Republicans in competitive districts.
Fight Back Colorado is modeled after Fight Back New York, a campaign Gill helped established and heavily donated to. The campaign led the way for same-sex marriage to become a reality for the Empire State in 2010 after failing in previous years. The New York model was adopted in part because New York’s legislature was also split between the parties. Fight Back New York was successful in each of the races it targeted.
Fight Back Colorado’s next campaign report is due the first of August. At that time, a better temperature of the LGBT community and its allies will come into focus.
“Fundraising is going well, we are just getting started and have been very pleased with the response so far,” Fight Back Treasurer Roger Sherman said. “The Fight Back team plans to spend the rest of summer raising money, and we are encouraged that Coloradans are engaged and ready to win.”