I salute the voters of Denver for so overwhelmingly voting to rescue Denver elections from the financial grasp of corporations and make sure that individual voters retain their power, by making sure individuals are the most important financial contributors to campaigns.
I hope that the city government embraces this opportunity and uses it to model genuinely democratic elections for cities, counties, and states across the nation.
The Rev. Mary Ann Dimand
It seems that with these rules, the more friends that a candidate has, the more public money he or she gets.
If any public money is going to a candidate, an equal amount should go too his or her opponent(s). This would be in conformance with the 14th Amendment of the US constitution. The rules as presented are not in conformance.
In general I found 3.9 Fair Election Campaign Funding Program quite reasonable, straightforward and transparent, though I do have a question about 3.9.4.A.3 requiring each contributor’s voter identification number or address attestation if not registered to vote. By any method, address has already been established or can be added if a check doesn’t include it. On the surface this seems an unnecessary and tedious use of campaign staff time, albeit accessible. Can you explain why this cross check is needed?
I won’t make the Hearing, so I would appreciate a Reply to this email if you can.
I am a Denver resident but I get mail at my PO Box in Englewood CO.
have the following revised comments to submit regarding implementation of the Fair Elections Campaign Funding Program:
1) The Elections Division appears to be making the tracking and reporting of donations more difficult for a candidate receiving public funds than a candidate with many rich donors. This defeats the intent of the public finance reporting initiative. It is not clear from the draft rules whether the City intends the candidate to file two separate monthly reports, one for each bank account, or if the reporting for both bank accounts is done in one campaign finance report per month? Do contributions to the campaign go into one bank account, and monies from the campaign finance fund go into the other bank account? The rules say that the money cannot be co mingled. Does that mean that a candidate can't pay an expense using funds from both accounts? If so, that makes no sense.
2.). The existing DED rules (not included under 3. 9 Fair Elections Campaign Funding Program), should be changed to allow cash contributions of $50, so that they match the Fair Elections Funding rules. Currently, cash amounts can only be contributed JP to $49.99, which is stupid, awkward and problematic.
3). 3.9.4 Subsection A. 2. b. Supporting Material Required....
Requiring a receipt for contributions by credit card is not possible for services like ActBlue and Action Network. Both these services are used by campaigns to collect contributions. These services do provide monthly reports showing the name, address, date of the contribution, and amount of contribution. These monthly reports must be acceptable as meeting the requirement of this subsection.
4.). 3.9.4 Subsection A.3. Supporting Material Required...
The requirement to have a record of the contributor's voter identification number is unreasonable. At the times and places where contributions are solicited, there is often not a way to get this information. This requirement also discriminates against people who don't have smartphones. If a person mails a check, or makes a credit card contribution through a group like ActBlue or Action Network, the contributor will not know of this requirement or know how to get their voter ID number.
By providing their address, they are in effect attesting to the accuracy of that information. There is no need for a separate attestation.
Instead of asking for a Voter ID number, the rule should say the person cannot use a Post Office Box as their home address. The rules should also make clear that homeless people surviving in Denver can contribute and have their contribution matched using the address rules promulgated by the Colorado Secretary of State - a shelter, day service center, or intersection or address where they survive. These will obviously be small contributions, but they should count just like anyone else's.
5) 3.9.5. Participating Candidates. Subsection B. Record Keeping by participating candidates.
Candidates taking public money should not have to report meal expenses or travel any differently than other candidates not taking public money - i.e., they should report on the monthly campaign finance reports required by the Denver Elections Division. A checkbox could be c1dlded to the regular campaign finance report input form for the candidate to indicate that public funding monies were used for a food or travel expense.
Eliminate Subsection 2 b and c, and Subsection ) a and b.
6) 3.9.5 C. Participating Candidates
In addition to not allowing OED fines to be paid from public funds, settlements for sexual harassment should not be payable with these public funds. This is a necessary requirement due to pc1st behavior of elected officials.
7) 3.9.5 F. Participating Candidates
The examples used as "deminimus purchases under $50" are wrong.
None of these examples cost the campaign less than $50 because they didn't buy them individually - they buy them in bulk for thousands of dollars. If the candidate is no longer a candidate, they have no "fair market value." Instead, the rule should say that office equipment, furniture, vehicles including scooters and bikes, etc. purchased with public funds and costing
$100 or more must be liquidated at their fair market value and the proceeds reimbursed to the fund as unspent funds.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Dianne Thiel, Treasurer
Denver Right to Survive Initiative
Thank you for the opportunity to have these comments considered and addressed at the upcoming hearing today. I cannot attend in person, but I hope that these potential problems can be resolved.
3.9.3.A.2: I believe this rule may conflict with the ordinance. A while back, I asked the city attorney if matching funds can be disbursed to a candidate retroactively upon certification of participation in the Fair Elections Fund, and the answer was yes. The statement in the rule that “Contributions made before filing do not qualify” might be in contradiction to the code. At DRMC 15-53(a)(1), the code anticipates that a candidate has accepted contributions prior to applying for certification. The proposed rule would invalidate all otherwise qualifying contributions collected prior to applying for certification.
3.9.3.B.1: Appears to contradict the rule above because it refers to any “qualifying contributions” prior to certification. B.2 then requires the qualifying contribution receipt for any contributions prior to certification. If they are qualifying contributions, they should be matched whether before or after certification.
3.9.3.D: Requires a participating candidate who is unopposed at the time of ballot certification to be decertified and return all unused match. This is of course in conformance with the ordinance; but what should happen if a write-in candidate files after ballot certification?
3.9.4.A.1: The proposed rule requires a copy be kept of both the deposit slip and the deposit receipt for any qualifying contribution. However, more typical at this time is either mobile deposit by smartphone, or EFT from a PayPal or similar online contribution platform, which do not generate deposit slips or receipts. This appears to be addressed in A.2.a for checks and A.2.b for credit card transactions, but it remains that A.1 documentation must also be included. How do we address instances where there is no deposit slip or receipt.
Also in A.2.b, I’ve often found that donors using my PayPal account do not list their home addresses; I’ve had to track them down afterward for disclosure report purposes. But it remains that the actual PayPal record itself would not include their home address. How can this be handled?
3.9.5.B.1: How do the rules envision expenditures to occur in a campaign if the contributions account cannot be commingled with the separate matching funds account? From which account would a candidate committee pay all of its expenses? If a candidate committee exclusively uses the matching funds account for all expenses and does not touch the contributions account – allowing the committee to retain all those funds – does this defeat the requirement to refund public moneys?
To The Denver Elections Division,
I'm Owen Perkins, and I speak as a Denver elector and as the President of CleanSlateNow Action, a primary proponent of The Democracy For The People Act, or Referred Measure 2E on the November, 2018 ballot.
On November 6, 2008, Denver voters passed The Democracy For The People Act with an overwhelming 71% of the vote, winning every Denver precinct in an unequivocal mandate for meaningful campaign finance reform.
The reforms voted into office include a ban on corporate donations to campaigns, lowering the campaign contribution limits across the board, and establishing The Fair Elections Fund to provide matching funds on a 9-to-1 basis for candidates who voluntarily accept even lower limits and choose to take money only from individuals. The publicly funded portion of the ordinance is meant, in part, to encourage candidates to focus even more sharply on the individuals in their district rather than on the big money and special interest donors who often attempt to influence Denver elections from outside of the City and County of Denver. To put it simply, the reforms encourage a prioritization of people, not money.
I was a part of the working group charged with drafting the rules for the implementation, and I would note that on multiple occasions in the drafting process, the group expressed the observation that it seemed like the rules were veering toward an attempt to discourage candidates from using the new reforms. We had to be vigilant in resisting what seemed like attempts to make the process of accepting public funding for campaigns so onerous that candidates would be scared off from attempting to use the historic new system voted in by the people of Denver to change the way we fund our local campaigns.
My comments primarily focus on areas where all candidates should be held to the same standard, for example, the existing standard that all funds raised for campaigns are to be used for a purpose directly related to electing a candidate to office. We should not be holding candidates opting in to use The Fair Elections Fund to any higher standard than those not participating - all candidates are expected to comply with the law regarding appropriate use of campaign funds. If Denver voters are not comfortable trusting that campaign funds are being used for campaign purposes with the existing transparency of campaign finance reports documenting every contribution and expenditure for a candidate's campaign, then any rule changes requiring candidates to prove the validity of their expenditures as directly relating to electing the candidate should be implemented across the board, not exclusively on candidates opting in to use The Fair Elections Fund.
I would highlight the following concerns:
Section 3.9.2 (A) "Address Verification Service." I assume this means that if a donation is made through a service like Act Blue, that we are trusting the existing address verification service implemented by Act Blue to verify that the billing address is correct. If we are asking candidates to do more than that, we need to ask the same of candidates not participating in The Fair Elections Fund.
Section 3.9.3 (A)(3) and 3.9.5 (A) Regarding the mandatory training required of participating candidates and anyone with access to the candidate's public funds bank account, I'd like to see a commitment to offer a minimum number of training opportunities, perhaps semi-annually during the first two years of the cycle and quarterly in the last two years of the cycle. This is especially important in the event that an on-line option is not available as intended, but I think it's important to offer the in-person training on a regular basis and reevaluate the need and ideal frequency as we progress through subsequent cycles.
Section 3.9.S (8}(2}The requirement to provide itemized receipts for food expenditures over $50 is an example of holding participating candidates to a higher standard than non-participating candidates. If we don't trust that candidates are following the law in using campaign funds for campaign purposes directly related to electing the candidate to office, then we should be imposing these standards across the board for all candidates, not exclusively for participating candidates.
Section 3.9.5 (8)(3) The same concerns as explained regarding Section 3.9.5 (8)(2) applies to this rule regarding travel. If we do not trust that reported travel expenditures from candidates are for justified campaign efforts to get a candidate elected, then we should impose these requirements on all candidates across the board, not exclusively for participating candidates.
Section 3.9 .5 (C) The wording should be changed here to 11part icipate in" in-person debates, rather than to 11attend" in-person debates. This is covered in the ordinance, and I' m not sure what the rule adds to the ordinance.
Section 3.9.5 (E) The final line of this paragraph should read "The candidate or the candidate's agent must return all unspent funds distributed to the candidate within sixty (60) days.
Section 3.9.5 (F) This rule should be changed to state that "Any property purchased with the fund with a fair market value of $50 or more must be liquidated at its fair market value and the proceeds reimbursed to the fund as unspent funds." (The examples of shirts, flyers, and yard signs and other s are all items that have no fair market value once a campaign is over.) I'd prefer to see $100 as the threshold.
Section 3.9.5 (G) I'd like to see more clarity regarding the phrase 11After the last election where a candidate's name appears on the ballot." Are we talking about within a given cycle? Or does this extend from cycle to cycle, and from office to office?
I would further add that these rules were drafted with the assumption that there would be technology in place to facilitate a fairly simple process of meeting new requirements. If adequate technology is not in place as candidates begin the certification process to participate in The Fair Elections Fund, then the rules may need to be adjusted at that time.
Thank you for your attention to these concerns and for your diligence in enacting the overwhelming will of the people of Denver. Please let me know if I can provide any further information or clarity about my suggested revisions.
President CleanSlateNow Action