The race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Colorado attracted millions of dollars more in outside super PAC spending in the final week before today’s primary election, campaign finance disclosures show.
The final days of the primary race have been defined by a controversial effort by a newly registered group, Democratic Colorado, to boost the profile of far-right state Rep. Ron Hanks, who is viewed as a weaker general-election candidate than his opponent, Denver construction CEO Joe O’Dea. The super PAC has spent more than $4 million on ads nominally attacking Hanks for being “too conservative” and highlighting O’Dea’s past donations to Colorado Democrats.
But O’Dea, too, has received last-minute support from American Policy Fund, a Republican super PAC that has received five- and six-figure contributions from several wealthy donors with ties to the candidate.
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After committing nearly $600,000 on ads promoting O’Dea earlier this year, American Policy Fund jumped into the race again last week, spending at least $448,030 on attack ads against Hanks since June 21, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures. An ad funded by the group paints Hanks as a “RINO” — a Republican in name only — who secretly supports gun control.
“Colorado conservatives can’t trust Ron Hanks,” the group’s ad says.
In contrast to candidate committees, which cannot accept contributions totaling more than $5,800 from any one donor, super PACs are authorized under federal law to accept unlimited donations from individuals and corporations.
In addition to the outside help, O’Dea made another $500,000 in personal contributions to his campaign last week, FEC disclosures show. That brings his self-funding total, including loans, to more than $1.6 million so far.
Because of the FEC’s quarterly filing deadlines, some key financial details about the super PACs that have spent so heavily to influence the primary’s outcome won’t be disclosed until next month.
As a newly registered group, Democratic Colorado’s donors won’t be known until its first quarterly filing on July 20. Similarly, the sources of American Policy Fund’s last-minute spending spree are a mystery, since the group reported having only $69,765 in cash at the time of its latest disclosure on June 8.
Colorado’s other major recipient of super PAC assistance this primary season has been GOP state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, who is battling three other rivals for the Republican nomination for the state’s new 8th Congressional District.
A trio of groups — including Americans for Prosperity Action, the super PAC backed by influential right-wing billionaire Charles Koch — has reported spending a combined total of more than $870,000 backing Kirkmeyer and attacking her opponents, more than a quarter of which came in the primary’s final week.
Meanwhile, an apparent effort by two Democratic groups, the 314 Action Fund and the House Majority PAC, to boost one of Kirkmeyer’s opponents, Weld County Commissioner and hard-line conservative Lori Saine, has reported a combined $299,231 in independent expenditures since June 14.
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