Campaign finance reform group hammers Mike Coffman on tax bill vote with six-figure ad buy

Author: Ernest Luning - January 16, 2018 - Updated: January 18, 2018

A 15-second digital video ad paid for by End Citizens United, a PAC devoted to pushing big money out of politics, targets U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, for his vote on the Republican tax bill that passed at the end of 2017. (Via YouTube)

A political action committee devoted to driving big money out of politics on Tuesday launched a six-figure digital ad campaign targeting U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman for the Aurora Republican’s vote in favor of the tax reform bill passed by Congress last month.

“Congressman Coffman represents the worst of Washington’s pay-to-play system, and he’s proven time and again he will sell out Colorado’s working families in favor of those writing him the biggest checks,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United, in a statement. “We’re going to make sure Coloradans know who he’s really fighting for in Congress.”

The digital ad blasts Coffman’s vote for the tax bill, which opponents claim benefits the ultra-wealthy and businesses with massive tax cuts while raising taxes on some middle-income earners. Republicans managed to pull the bill across the finish line and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature as the year wound down, notching the GOP’s first major legislative accomplishment after nearly a year controlling Congress and the White House.

The 15-second video urging viewers to call Coffman will appear on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, the group said, with an audio version airing on Pandora.

Coffman represents Colorado’s nearly evenly divided 6th Congressional District, a perennial swing seat that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the last election while returning Coffman to Congress for a fifth term. It’s one of more than two dozen seats Democrats have targeted in order to win control of the House after the November election.

End Citizens United last month named Coffman to its Big Money 20 list of congressional incumbents the group says do the bidding of the pharmaceutical industry, oil companies and Wall Street, among other donors, while supporting what it terms a “rigged” campaign finance system.

A spokesman for Coffman’s campaign blasted the ad.

“Yet another left-wing attack ad based on an outright lie,” Coffman campaign advisor Tyler Sandberg told Colorado Politics. “Tax reform is putting more money in the hands of hard working Coloradans right away through lower tax rates, in addition to companies across Colorado and the country boosting pay in response to passage of the tax bill. It’s sad, but not surprising, that a DC PAC designed to do Democrats’ dirty work can’t get its facts straight.”

In a newsletter sent to constituents Saturday, Coffman cheered the consequences of the tax bill’s passage, saying the changes to to the tax code “are pro-family, pro-growth, and pro-higher wages for hard working families.” He pointed to a list maintained by House Republicans of companies — including many with operations in Colorado — that have announced bonuses and pay increases in response to the bill and noted that some utility companies have said they’ll pass their savings on to their customers.

The End Citizens United PAC said last month it intends to spend $35 million this cycle to defeat incumbents and elect reformers. In September, the organization endorsed one of Coffman’s Democratic challengers, attorney Jason Crow, who said at the same time he won’t accept contributions from corporate PACs.

According to the group, Coffman has accepted $2.8 millions from corporate PACs since he ran for the first of his five congressional terms in 2008. Coffman has also voted against the congressional DISCLOSE Act and against a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which critics say helped open the floodgates to virtually unlimited campaign spending.

End Citizens United counts 3 million members nationwide, including 6,700 in Coffman’s 6th Congressional District. It’s funded by small donors — the average contribution is $14 — and helped elect 65 members of Congress last cycle with $25 million in campaign spending.

Three other Democrats — Levi Tillemann, David Aarestad and Erik Stanger, all of Aurora — are running for the chance to take on Coffman, and Coffman is facing a primary challenge from Highlands Ranch Republican Roger Edwards.

UPDATED: This post has been updated with a comment from Coffman’s campaign spokesman. In addition, End Citizens United says Coffman has taken $2.8 million from corporate PACs in his five congressional campaigns, not $1.7 million as the organization had earlier charged. 

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.