|Elections may be changing in Loveland in the near future. A group calling itself Lovelanders for Fair Elections has qualified a petition with
the City Clerk to begin collecting signatures to qualify a campaign finance reform measure for this November's ballot. They will need to
gather nearly 2,000 signatures in the next five weeks to be successful.
Unlike State and Federal officials, Loveland City Council candidates and the Mayor are not limited in how much money they receive for
campaigning in either amounts or the source of that money. According to Lovelanders for Fair Elections, this has resulted in a few moneyed
individuals bankrolling the campaigns of a few selected candidates while a majority of citizens stay out of the fundraising process.
The measure being promoted by Lovelanders for Fair Elections will do primarily three things, 1. Limit every contributor to $100 per
candidate 2. Prohibit corporations and labor unions from contributing to local races in Loveland and 3. Create greater transparency by
requiring a publication and reporting of who is contributing to city races.
An example is Loveland's current Mayor Pro Tem Gene Pielin. He is seen by many as the advocate for the McWhinneys on the City Council
and has yet to turn down a request or vote against any measure put before the City Council on the McWhinney's behalf. Another example is
Loveland's Mayor, Larry Walsh, who also accepts very large campaign contributions from Loveland Commercial and the Mchinneys.
What isn't as well known is that he outspent his last opponent in his last election mostly with money he obtained for his campaign by the
McWhinney brothers and entities they control. It isn't well known since the money was carefully funneled through various company entities
and names in an apparent attempt to hide from the press and public just how heavily indebted this City Councilman is to a very small
number of people for his successful campaign.
The following companies provided the campaign dollars to Gene Pielin to succeed in his last Council election; FDC Office II, VDW Properties
LLC, Rocky Mountain Village II, FSB Partners, Foxtrail Lodging, Stonebridge and others. All of these contributors happen to use the same
addresses and suite numbers as the McWhinneys in either Loveland or Englewood, Colorado. In fact, two companies list the McWhinney's
suite #200 at their Rocky Mountain address in Loveland while other Council candidates listed another address for the very same companies
in Englewood, Colorado.
A review by LovelandPolitics.com of Mayor Pro Tem Gene Pielin's 2003 City Council race reported contributions show the entities listed
above gave amounts ranging between $100 and $250. However, all the entities above reported the same street address and suite number as
the McWhinneys (presumably these are legal entities created and controlled by the McWhinneys or their holding companies) making the the
McWhinneys by far the single largest contributors to Pielin's last City Council race. The McWhinneys contributed over $2,150 while Core
Construction gave Pielin $1,000 along with the Realtorâ€™s PAC located in Englewood, Colorado that also tied for second largest contributor
Smaller construction firms and other companies like the PM Lifestyle Shopping Centers of Memphis, TN account for another $1,150 of
contributions while local companies and individuals not easily identified as having business before Loveland's City Council account for
approximately 15% of Pielin's total contributions.
If the proposed campaign finance reforms pass in Loveland, the McWhinneys will not be allowed to funnel campaign funds to City Council
races through their various business entities and partnerships. In addition, the additional reporting requirements intend to reveal attempts
to circumvent the limits by individuals who have already reached their maximum contribution limit of $100.
Absent special interest money, much from outside Loveland, Pielin's last race would have been much more competitive had he been forced
to rely on support from within the community instead of special interests looking for favors from the City Council.
Lovelanders for Fair Elections appear to have used nearly identical language in their ballot initiative as a similar measure that is in place in
Ft. Collins. The group claims the measure will make races more competitive. A review of recent elections in Ft. Collins and Loveland may
support this conclusion, since Loveland has seen a number of uncontested races in recent years while Ft. Collins City Council races have
been very competitive with no shortage of diverse candidates competing for those offices.
A key difference between the Ft. Collins campaign limits and Loveland's proposed limits is the maximum contribution amount. Ft. Collins
limits contributors to $75 per candidate while Loveland's proposed ballot measure will limit contributions to $100 per contributor.
Please feel free to comment on the BLOG if you have any comments or questions.
|Group Circulating Petition to Reform
Loveland's Campaign Finance Laws
|Pielin's 2003 election was funded almost entirely
by special interest money. The group pushing for
campaign finance reform believes races will be
more competitive if candidates are not allowed to
sell their seat to the highest bidder but instead
rely on wider community support to get elected.
(Above) Mayor Pro Tem Pielin
(Left) Click on pie chart for bigger image.
|Click on graph to
see a break down