9NEWS’ Kyle Clark put a headstone Monday on the failed attempt by the Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown with support from House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and allies (see below) to recall freshman Democratic state Rep. Tom Sullivan with a look at the “recall campaign’s” fundraising reports–reports that allegedly show precisely $0 raised or spent on the effort. But as anybody who knows how unaccountable “dark money” flows among nonprofit political organizations can tell you, it would be silly to think that’s the whole story:
KYLE CLARK: The failed attempt to recall Democratic State Rep. Tom Sullivan did not raise one dollar and it did not spend a dollar. We learned that from some financial filings. Now that sounds funny unless you heard us saying weeks ago that this recall was really about a gun rights group called Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. The head of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners says, they funded the entire recall and guess what? They don’t have to disclose their donors.
So we are left to take that special interest group at its word that this was not just a fundraiser designed as a recall that was never going to succeed. We are left to take them at their word that they took in $30,000 and spent more than that $45,000 on a failed signature-gathering effort.
If those happen to be your dollars, and your trust, my condolences.
Because recall elections are–controversially–not considered candidate elections but rather “issue questions” under campaign finance law, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is not technically required to spend disclosable funds in support of a recall of a state legislator. This works the other way, of course, though the instigator of a recall by definition bears the full moral responsibility for all such spending. But just as we’ve observed with the mission-impossible recall attempt against Gov. Jared Polis, raising money quickly becomes the principal objective–and if the goal is simply to amass cash, a recall that doesn’t go forward is a much more lucrative endeavor.
As the old saying goes, a fool and his money are soon parted. But in the era of “ScamPACs” and saturation-level solicitation for donations to all manner of fly-by-night political committees and campaigns, it’s extremely important that donors be aware of not just who they’re giving to, but what the specific plan is for spending their money–including obvious contingencies like the campaign unceremoniously folding up because it was the worst Republican decision since Darryl Glenn.
In every sense of the word, we hope all money donated to RMGO to recall Tom Sullivan was “disposable.” The only thing these donors can say about their money now…is that they don’t have it anymore.