Sen. Morse Claims to Fight Outside Interest Groups While Outside Interest Groups Fund Pro Morse Campaign
While embattled Colorado Senate President John Morse claimed “we cannot allow outside interest groups to determine what is best for Colorado“, campaign finance reports tell a different story. A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, an issue committee set up to defend Morse in a recall election, received its largest donation from a 501(c)(4) based in Washington D.C. and retained the services of Chicago and D.C. consultants and pollsters, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed today.
Three outside interest groups, which consist of two 501(c)(4)’s and one 527, provided nearly 77 percent of the total contributions to the issue committee that supports Morse. The Sixteen Thirty Fund, Mainstream Colorado, and Citizens for Integrity account for $75,000 of the total $97,606 that A Whole Lot of People For John Morse received in the last reporting period. This lopsided campaign finance report continues the trend seen in last months report, when America Votes provided the bulk of funds with a $20,000 donation to the pro Morse group.
Mainstream Colorado, a 527 registered by Julie Wells which gave $15,000 to the pro Morse group, was created in December of 2012 to assist Democrats in the 2014 election cycle. Mainstream Colorado has raised $115,000 since its creation with large donations from the Pharma Colorado Action Fund and the Riviera Black Hawk Casino, both of whom gave $25,000.
Citizens for Integrity, a 501(c)(4) which also lists Julie Wells as its treasurer, gave $25,000 to A Whole Lot of People for John Morse. This donation accounts for approximately 25% of the total raised by the pro Morse group in the last month.
The largest single donor to the Morse issue committee was the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which gave $35,000 and accounted for nearly 36% of the total contributions during the reporting period.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund is a tax exempt social welfare group which advocates for progressive policies. The president of the Sixteen Thirty Fund is Eric Kessler, of Arabella Advisors and formerly the National Field Director for the League of Conservation Voters.
Tax forms for the Sixteen Thirty Fund show grants provided to such groups as ACORN, the SEIU, Planned Parenthood, and the Colorado Branch of ProgressNow, which received a $52,000 grant from the organization in 2009.
In 2009, the Sixteen Thirty Fund received nearly $4 million in grants from Unity 09, a consortium of liberal groups which sought to pressure lawmakers to support legislation pushed by the Obama White House and other progressive causes.
Groups that led the Unity 09 effort include MoveOn, The National Council of La Raza, and Planned Parenthood, according to a report from Politico in March of 2009. Additionally, Politico reported that Unity 09 was “informally, the field organizing compliment to another new organization, Progressive Media” which was created “to coordinate the liberal groups’ messages and their attacks on Republicans and on critics of Obama’s policies.”
In addition to money that flowed in to the coffers of those defending Morse, campaign finance reports also show the Morse groups sending money to Chicago and D.C. for campaign consulting.
A Whole Lot of People for John Morse spent $25,000 on consultant services provided by Adelstein Liston. According to the company’s clients page, Adelstein Liston has worked for President Obama, Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign for the Democratic nomination, and more. Adelstein Liston worked to elect Senator Michael Bennet on behalf of AFSCME and has run issue campaigns for well know liberal groups such as the AFL-CIO, Emily’s List, and the American Federation of Teachers.
The pro Morse issue committee also spent nearly $17,000 for services provided by Myers Research & Strategic Services.
Myers Research is a polling group which has provided its services to a variety of liberal organizations, many of which are in Colorado. According to the client list on their site, Myers Research has done polling for Governor Hickenlooper, Senator Mark Udall, Senator Michael Bennet, Representative John Salazar and Representative Betsy Markey.
Additionally, Myers Research has worked for many notable liberal organizations in and out of Colorado which include ProgressNow, the SEIU, the Colorado AFL-CIO, and Colorado WINS. Myers Research has also provided services to national Democratic organizations such as the Democratic Governors Association, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Follow Aaron Gardner on Twitter: @aaron_rs