Monday, June 9, 2008

Fundraising? Polis setting records for self-funding

When a super-rich candidate continuously writes million dollar-plus checks to his own campaign can that accurately be described as "fundraising?"

Democrat Jared Polis has poured more of his own money into his congressional campaign than any other candidate in state history, reports Karen Crummy.

Polis, a businessman who has given his campaign nearly $3.7 million, has eclipsed oilman Bruce Benson, who self-funded his failed 1994 gubernatorial bid to the tune of $3.6 million, which is widely considered the record.

Unlike Benson, Polis is running for the 2nd Congressional District seat representing just one-seventh of the state, and his money is being used for a primary, not a general election.

Polis has raised just over $1 million from other donors, as have both his opponents, former state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and conservationist Will Shafroth. Polis' self-funding is about 54 percent of all the money pumped into the contest.

Fitz-Gerald has given her campaign $15,000, and Shafroth has contributed $6,000 to his.

Jared is a nice person but I really hope this goes to one of the other candidates just out of principle (though I have some policy issues with him as well). Jared spent over a million dollars to capture his At-Large State Board of Education Seat, an unheard of sum for such a seat. He won the seat by around 90 votes against an opponent that spent about $10,000.

In 2006 Polis tried to buy himself a 2008 campaign issue when he supported the obviously flawed Amendment 41. A measure that was ostensibly aimed at lobbyists but really punished mid and low level state, city and county workers and has created still unresolved legal mess. All of which was predicted by opponents to the measure and arrogantly ignored by Jared.

When that blew up in his face he proceeded to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on his own high-paid lobbyists and consultants to clean up his mess. Now he's donated nearly $4 million to his Democratic primary campaign.

Not to get too hysterical but the oligarchic overtones of Polis' campaigns are hard for me to dismiss. I realize that Polis is the Colorado "Progressive" candidate du-jour for this election cycle but I really hope that our Progressive community takes a very long and hard look about what a Polis victory means - consolidation of power in the hands of the uber-rich who through their own wealth are able to grossly distort our political process.

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