Campaign financeElection 2018NewsTrending

Money flowing into governor’s race tops $21M

Author: Marianne Goodland - September 5, 2018 - Updated: September 24, 2018

(Photo by CaptureLight, istockphoto)

More than $27.7 million has flowed into campaign coffers of all kinds in Colorado in the most recent reporting period, from July 28 to Aug. 29, according to the secretary of state’s campaign finance system, TRACER.


Campaign contributions to the two major party candidates in the race for governor have reached $21.37 million.

Among the donations reported in August is a $5 million bump from Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis. That brings the tech millionaire’s total contributions to his campaign to $18.3 million.

Republican nominee Walker Stapleton took in a fraction of that, at $344,501.

That puts Polis, who limits contributions from everyone but himself to $100 each, at $18.6 million in total contributions and Stapleton at just under $3 million total.

An independent expenditure committee that will support the Democratic nominee for governor, Good Jobs Colorado, is funded largely by the Democratic Governors Association and Education Reform Now Advocacy, the fundraising arm of Democrats for Education Reform, neither of which disclose their donors. The committee took in $1.13 million in August. Its largest donors were the NEA Advocacy Fund and America Votes, both at $300,000. Good Jobs Colorado has raised a total of $1.46 million.

Stapleton has contributed just over $1 million to his campaign in cash and in-kind donations. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t taking sizable donations.

Among Stapleton’s notable donors in the most recent reporting period:

  • The Colorado Republican Party, $50,000, bringing their total to $130,000.
  • Maximum $1,150 contributions were received from state treasurer candidate Brian Watson and U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.

But Stapleton has help from lots of other groups. On the dark money side, the Republican Governors Association PAC that supports Stapleton got $300,000 in August from the Republican Governors Association, whose donors are unknown. Total contributions to the RGA in Colorado now top $1.3 million.

Better Colorado Now, the independent expenditure committee that backs Stapleton, has raised a total of $1.687 million, including $575,000 in August, with $550,000 coming from three energy companies: DCP Midstream, Crestone Peak and Northpoint Energy.

Also waiting in the wings is funding from the Stapleton Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee set up under the Federal Elections Commission. That fund raised $345,662 in August, and on July 30 (after the most recent deadline in Colorado) transferred $311,096 to a variety of committees that are reportable to TRACER. That includes $14,165 to Stapleton’s gubernatorial campaign and the rest to two committees controlled by the Colorado Republican Party.

Among the 33 donors to the federal victory fund: Stapleton’s mother, Dorothy, who gave $14,825; and longtime GOP donors Ed and Carole McValey (he founded software giant JD Edwards), who each gave $12,500. Of those donors, all but nine gave more than $10,000 each. Only two gave less than $1,000.

But is it legal? Colorado campaign finance manual says that federal PACs are limited to the same maximum contributions that apply to individuals in Colorado: $1,150. That raises the question on whether that $14,165 contribution to the Stapleton campaign is legal.

However, it’s the designation as a joint fundraising committee, according to the Stapleton campaign, that makes the donation to the Stapleton campaign legal. According to spokesman Michael Fortney, the committee is not a federal PAC but is organized “under federal and state law by the Colorado Republican Party and authorized in part by Stapleton for Colorado.”



The big money in the race for Colorado’s next chief lawyer is coming from two Washington, D.C.-based associations, one for the Republicans, the other from the Democrats.

In the most recent reporting period, the Republican Attorneys General Association, which backs Republican George Brauchler through its IEC, Colorado Freedom, has now raised $1.04 million, including $394,659 in August.

Brauchler raised $122,310 in August, bringing his campaign total to $515,309. His biggest donors:

  • The Apartment Association of Metro Denver small donor committee, $12,250.
  • The Realtor small donor committee, $12,250.

Democratic candidate Phil Weiser raised $356,492 in August, bringing his total to $2.06 million. Among his contributors:

  • The Colorado Democratic Party, which gave the campaign $52,500 in August, raised its total of $93,245.
  • The Colorado Education Association’s public education committee, $12,250.

An independent expenditure committee backing Weiser — Justice Colorado, which is backed by the Democratic Attorneys General Association — has raised a total of $233,870, including $144,500 in August.

Its biggest donors are all individuals:

  • James Kelly of Denver, $25,000.
  • David Merage of Littleton, $10,000.
  • Kenneth Pope of Denver, $10,000.
  • Pat Stryker of Fort Collins, $10,000.

Stryker is a well-known Democratic donor who has funneled millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns over the past 15 years.)



Republican businessman Brian Watson raised $44,346 in August, bringing his campaign total to $349,035. Watson has also made $572,000 in loans to the campaign.

Among his donors are the same ones that popped up in Brauchler’s August report: the Apartment Association of Metro Denver small donor committee, at $12,250 and the Realtor’s small donor committee at $2,500.

Democratic candidate and state Rep. Dave Young had a better August, raising $83,494, bringing his total to $230,969. His biggest donors:

  • Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, $7,500;
  • The Colorado Education Association’s public education committee, $6,125, bringing their total to $12,250; and
  • American Federation of Teachers, $2,000 in August, for a total of $3,000.



The only incumbent among the top four statewide races — Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams — raised $46,082 in August. The campaign’s total is now $235,635. His big donors in August are:

  • The Realtor’s small donor committee, $12,250.
  • A small donor committee for the Foothills Republicans,  $4,250.
  • The Lincoln Club of Colorado, $2,000.

Democratic opponent Jena Griswold has raised $640,306, including $162,398 in August. Her largest contributions came from:

  • The public education committee for the CEA, $12,250;
  • The southwest carpenter’s group, $7,500.
  • The Colorado Democratic Party, $7,645 in August, for a total of $46,645.

The next campaign finance update, which will start to show how these latest funds are being spent, is due Sept. 17 and covers the period of Aug. 30 through Sept. 12.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.