News (USA)

Colorado gay rights group donates to Republican lawmakers who voted for civil unions

Colorado gay rights group donates to Republican lawmakers who voted for civil unions

DENVER — Colorado’s statewide-LGBT advocacy organization is putting its money where its mouth is.

One Colorado, the group leading the lobbying effort for civil unions here, has repeatedly pledged to support any lawmaker — Republican or Democrat — who supports relationship recognition legislation. This week, campaign finance reports show the group has made good on its promise.

Two Republican state senators, Jean White, R-Hayden, and Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, were gifted $1,000 each by One Colorado’s small donor committee.

Both women voted in 2011 for a bill that would have established civil unions. A third Republican senator, Nancy Spence, also voted for the Colorado Civil Union Act last year, but is term-limited. A similar bill will soon be debated this year.

“(LGBT equality issues) are neither red nor blue,” said One Colorado’s Executive Director Brad Clark. “We will show support to any lawmaker who does the right thing. We pledge our support regardless of party affiliation.”

One Colorado organized its small donor committee in October 2011.

In the four months since the organization filed with the Secretary of State’s office, more than $8,000 has been raised.

One Colorado also donated $1,000 to two Democratic groups, one charged with keeping the party in control of the state Senate and another to win back the state House. The committee gave an additional $500 to the Ferrandino Leadership Fund, established by gay Denver lawmaker and House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino.

Individuals are allowed to donate $50 per calendar year to small donor committees. In turn, those committees are allowed to donate up to $2,250 to candidates for both primary and general elections.

A who’s-who of LGBT power brokers and allies made up the committee’s initial filing with the Secretary of State.

Individuals who donated include Denver’s first openly gay city council member Robin Kneich, Tracks nightclub owner Andrew Feinstein, the Gill Foundation’s Bobby Clark, Leslie Herod and Tim Sweeney, the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s Jason Marsden, Dr. Mark Thrun, Babes Around Denver founder Dede Frain and lesbian state Rep. Sue Schafer.

“There is an energy and intensity in the LGBT community to support candidates that are doing the right thing,” Clark said.

Metropolitan State College of Denver political scientist Norman Provizer said One Colorado donating to Republican and Democratic lawmakers is all part of the American political process.

“At this juncture, there is a wide range of methods to get money to campaigns,” he said. “But they all have the same purpose: support your friends who support your policies.”

One Colorado also has a registered Political Action Committee. However, those coffers have remained dormant since the 2010 election cycle, according to reports filed with the state.

Clark said One Colorado will continue to raise money and invest its funds in individuals who are thoroughly vetted.

“We’ll go through a rigorous endorsement process later this year,” he said. “We’ll be donating to lawmakers based on their record.”

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