Stan Garnett refuses all PAC money

Stan Garnett, candidate for Colorado Attorney General, has decided to turn down all political action committee money, saying the state needs an AG who isn’t beholden to special interests:

Stan Garnett for Colorado Attorney General Stan announced today he is declining any contributions from Political Action Committees, unlike his opponent who was taken in tens of thousands in PAC money since taking office. “The people of this state need an Attorney General who is beholden to no special interests, and it is important to eliminate even the appearance that my priorities might be influenced by deep-pocketed corporate donors,” Stan said.



He released the statement via facebook this morning.

By refusing PAC money, Garnett joins a handful of candidates like Andrew Romanoff and Barack Obama who said they would fund their campaigns from people — not special interests.

Romanoff applauded Garnett on his decision(also via facebook).

“This is How Movements Take Shape”

I was heartened to hear that Stan Garnett, Colorado’s Democratic candidate for Attorney General, will refuse contributions from special-interest groups. I applaud his decision. He recognizes the threat that pay-to-play politics poses to the very core of our democracy.

Coloradans demand and deserve representation that is beholden only to them. That change will come only when more candidates lead by example, as Stan Garnett is doing. This is how movements take shape.

While some questioned Obama on whether he could win without PAC money, and are still questioning Romanoff, it seems to be a growing trend that candidates want to distance themselves from the appearance of corporate or other special interest influence.

60 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Earnest says:

    This seems like a specious distinction. People have interests special to them (in addition to more general interests).  They join with similiar people (formally or informally) to form interest groups.  Thus, Special Interest groups are made up of People.  Why are these People less worthy of attention or respect than other People?  I think Garnett has made a mistake (assuming that he would actually have received significant PAC money).

    • StrykerK2 says:

      The contribution limits to them are different than to candidates.  In effect, a handful of people can max to a candidate, max to several PACs, and have an exponentially higher impact on a campaign than the spirit of campaign limits allows.

      For instance, if I really supported a candidate, I could give the max to them ($4800 if it’s a federal race), and then another $5000 to a PAC that I know will give to the candidate (or I can just start one that will).  That alone more than doubles my contribution.  Now if I’m really motivated, I can give to multiple PACs — $5K a pop.  Very quickly the influence is much larger than the standard contribution limits.

      See the problem?

      • ClubTwitty says:

        then their spouses and infants and employees etc.

        See the distinction?  (I somehow doubt that you do).

        • StrykerK2 says:

          I think the distinction is incredibly important.  There are names attached to those contributions.  CEO Bob give 4800 to a candidate, and that’s open and recorded.

          I certainly see the issue of donor’s spouses, etc giving — you do have a problem when a bunch of college age kids are maxing to candidates.  You might want to check on infants though — I thought there was some age requirement.

          Regardless, the issue of PACs remains the same.  These are entities that can give more than double what an individual can (PACs limit is 10K, individual 4800), but that money can still just come from a few people.

          • ClubTwitty says:

            It allows my donation to be attached to a specific cause.  I like that.  

            • StrykerK2 says:

              I really do understand the point of view.

              The problem is how many of these work: we have contribution limits in this country for a reason — so a few wealthy individuals can’t just buy government (in theory).  PACs don’t help that any.

              Also, there are a good number that really are just linked to corporations to further that interest — not people.  BP, Shell, Goldman-Sachs, etc — they don’t represent people at all.

              • ClubTwitty says:

                taking large donors out altogether.  Make candidates demonstrate a threshold of support by collecting contributions from a certain number of small donors with addresses from in district.

                Before that time I think unilateral disarmament is silly.  PACs are the vehicle, the source remains the problem.  

                • StrykerK2 says:

                  I would love to see a system of public financing in this country — take all the big money out and level the playing field for candidates to actually go out and show why they should win.

                  We elected President Obama without PACs; it’s not like it can’t be done.  I’m happy to see candidates like Garnett and Romanoff follow the same path — it’s logical that they would be fighting for public financing in the future (though admittingly I’m not sure what role the AG could have in that except as a very vocal supporter).

              • VoyageurVoyageur says:

                So, maybe just platypuses staff the SandP 500.

                interesting theory.

              • redstateblues says:

                Obama wasn’t too good for $994,795 of their employees’ dollars. But since those are “people” I guess everything is hunky dory.

                Hey, speaking of which, what did you think of Obama’s financial overhaul? I guess if he can take $1 million Goldman Sachs dollars and still pass regulatory overhauls, maybe all this money isn’t as tainted as you think. Maybe it’s more about the individual than whether or not PAC money instantly corrupts a candidate.

      • Earnest says:

        PACS are often made up of people.  So, to distinguish between PACs and people is odd to me.  The problem to which you allude is that people with more money can have a bigger influence than those with little money.  That may be a problem but I don’t think it’s unique to PAC donations.

    • The perception of an AG who’s “for the People” may be an added draw, and from the way his campaign is going he may have some significant support at the grassroots.

      There’s a level of campaign where not taking the pre-gathered (PAC) money is easily doable; the State AG race is barely in that category, but he might make it work.

      The problem with PACs from a political perspective is that while the definition covers groups like the Sierra Club and the NRA that get their money from the average Joe, it also covers business interests that can contribute far out of proportion to their actual representation as part of “the People”.

      • Earnest says:

        …regarding whether someone can win a contested AG race without PAC money, especially if the other side is taking it.  But, we shall see.

        The problem you identify is an important one, but it seems to call for distinctions between different PACS, not an all-out refusal to take any PAC money.

        • RedGreenRedGreen says:

          for offices like secretary of state or attorney general — their donors are often interests with, well, an interest in what goes on in the office, outweighing the general public which don’t, frankly, care that much.

          So foregoing PAC money could be a significant sacrifice for an AG candidate. But even granting that, I’m a little leery it’s that big a deal, if Suthers has only taken in “tens of thousands” since taking office. That’s just not that much.

          Since the comparison here is explicitly to the Dem Senate race, keep this in mind. If Bennet subtracted all his PAC money, he’d still have about five times as much cash on hand as Romanoff, Norton or Buck. So I wonder how terrible the corrupting influence of PAC money is, practically, not aesthetically. I think that’s a good question.

  2. ClubTwitty says:

    Many PACs represent people (unions, small donor bundling etc.).  PACs are just the vehicle not the source.  Many ‘individual’ contributors represent corporations.

    But hey!  If the gimmick works…

    The easiest way for a wealthy contributor to give more than the nominal contribution limit to the candidate of their choice is to give an extra contribution through their spouse. The number of contributors who do this is very large – so large, in fact, that the single biggest occupation listed on the rolls of the Federal Election Commission in a typical election cycle is “homemaker” or “housewife” or some similar variation.

    http://www.opensecrets.org

  3. ThillyWabbit says:

    Just ask Secretary of State Ken Gordon.

    Oh, wait…

      • Earnest says:

        …is not persuasive.  Obama’s decision did not hurt him because he had tons of money from other sources.  If another candidate doesn’t enjoy the same immense fundraising power, the comparison breaks down quickly.

        • StrykerK2 says:

          if Thillywabbit wants to use Gordon as an example, why not Obama too?  

          For what it’s worth, Ken Gordon raised a lot of money — possibly more than anyone else has for that race.  Not taking PAC money isn’t the detriment others on here want to make it.

          Obama didn’t have all the money early on — Clinton was outraising him by vast amounts.  Eventually the message caught on and people started giving in droves.  People forget that a lot.

        • wade norris says:

          so you don’t think Obama was principled?

          That he only took that pledge after he knew he was going to raise gobs of money?

          which is it?

          are you saying Obama was a fraud?

          • Earnest says:

            I was responding to the assertion that it’s possible to win a big race without PAC money, not whether it’s principled to do so.

            • wade norris says:

              Stan Garnett is a 4-1 favorite with top line rating over his opponent.

              It looks like it is possible.

              • Earnest says:

                Does your faith hold true for the Senate race, or is your faith somewhat erratic?

                • wade norris says:

                  because this website states that Romanoff can’t win without PAC money,

                  yet they have another candidate favored to win who has followed in Romanoff’s footsteps.

                  It is a stand that will increase as people realize just how corrupting the Citizen United decision is on our democracy

                  • Earnest says:

                    …but as to your first, I note that Garnett’s odds were based on the state of affairs existing before he rejected PAC money.  Not that I care about the silly odds posted on this website.

                  • MADCO says:

                    he’d still be a lock.

                    What you conveniently forget is that this website has never said AR’s lack of PAC money is why he can’t win.    CoPols has made the point that starting late,  underfunded when compared to his competition, and without resounding message or differentiation make him an underdog by conventional measure.

                    Oh, wait… is this Wade?

                    Never mind- just mu whatever you want.  Carry on.

                    • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

                      PAC money, Monopoly money, whatever. We’ve never said that Romanoff can’t win because he doesn’t take PAC money. We don’t think Romanoff can win because he hasn’t shown an ability to raise enough money in general, whatever the source.

                      Colorado election history has shown over and over and over that you cannot win a top-ticket race unless you have a heavy presence on TV. That’s not our opinion — it’s just the way it is. Small bank account = small TV buy = not enough votes to win.

                    • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

                      If not now, when?

                    • dfarrah says:

                      exact same thing, dukeco1.

                      That’s what I’ve always admired about AR–his can-do attitude.  

                      While other dems were/are whining & moaning how it ‘can’t be done,’ the votes aren’t there, the voters are too independent or conservative to reach, wah, wah, wah,  AR is out there, figuring out how it can be done.

                      Furthermore, he’s able to convince voters across a spectrum to support his positions.  It’s called leadership. Unfortunately, most dems like MB just go along for the ride.

                    • Middle of the Road says:

                      So quit blogging and start writing checks to the guy. And when you’ve tapped out and done what you can afford, start raising money among other like minded folks that feel the same way and help AR raise some money. Because he and his campaign are clearly incapable of doing it themselves.

                      Truest statement you’ve ever made on this blog about him, dfarrah:

                      AR is out there, figuring out how it can be done.

                      Do let us all know when he actually succeeds in that endeavor. So far, his quarterly reports indicate he’s still in the “figuring it out” process.  

                    • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

                      I know many think it naive…but I don’t. Maybe we will fail, but we have to try. I, like many others, am convinced that the system will not change from the inside out.

                      If we cannot mount a grass roots effort during this election sufficient to affect the current paradigm, then we will keep on trying. I admire AR, Stan Garnett, and any candidate that will stick out their neck to risk everything for this principle.

                      If I am wrong about this, I can live with that. I have been wrong, oh, so many times before. But I have been to Washington and Denver enough to know that money provides access, access drives the message, and the message is everything. We need to break the dominance that Big Money has on that message control.

                      But, as I have said before, none of this is the main reason I support AR. I know him, trust him, and he is the best legislator I ever met. I wish I were wealthy enough to buy him a few hours of air time, but I still go out and scrape my knuckles and get splinters in my fingers in order to pay the bills. So I will give him as much money as I can afford and work my tail off for him. Should he lose, I will do the same for Senator Bennet.

                      Anyway, you guys maybe right…and if my support for Andrew Romanoff cripples the Democratic party, causes the Sun to implode, and gets Sarah Palin elected president (I tried to think of something worse than the Sun imploding), then I am sorry. But, let’s wait and see, OK?  :-)

                    • dfarrah says:

                      Apparently, you don’t recall when Colorado politics was dominated by repubs.

                      You don’t recall what a bunch of whiners dems were back then, wallowing in their loser-ness.

                      You don’t recall the Colorado Comeback, nor the effort AR had to make to convince the loser-minded dems that, yes, Colorado can and will elect dems.  

                      You don’t recall that AR’s appeal to voters and his leadership in the state leg made non-dem Colorado voters feel ‘safe,’ so to speak, to vote for dems.

                      You don’t recall the drubbing AR delivered to the repubs that helped to convince non-dem voters that repubs were completely out of touch with the ordinary concerns of voters.

                      Unfortunately, the loser-minded dems, like you, still have far too much influence on what goes on in the party.

                      So we may very well be saddled with the milquetoast MB, a guy who has never lifted a finger to help the dem party.  At his swearing in, you and other loser-minded dems can celebrate the fact that you simply aren’t able to conceive of any possibilities beyond $, $, and more $$$.

                    • Middle of the Road says:

                      And you did not disappoint.  

                    • dfarrah says:

                      Col Pols to understand why it supports MB.

                      And, as usual, none of you can cite anything MB has done for the party.  

                      Nothing.

                    • denverco says:

                      many, many, many elected officials and party volunteers helped turned Colorado blue – not one individual!

                      Ar is not the savior of the Colorado Democratic party. His biggest accomplishment is winning in a safe Democratic district. The way his current campaign is being run is proof he doesn’t know what to do in a competitive campaign.

                      For all his connections statewide, being a career politician, why doesn’t AR poll better? Perhaps people that know him don’t always like what they see.  

                    • dfarrah says:

                      should get all of the credit?

                      No, but I will certainly give credit where credit is due.  The simple fact remains that he was the most publicly visible part of the Colorado Comeback, and when voters saw him, they saw someone they could trust, someone who could dive into important issues and come up with solutions that members of both parties could support, and someone who could work amicably with a repub governor and a repub dominated lege.

                      As you probably know, Colorado’s electorate is about 1/3 dem, 1/3 repub and 1/3 independent [I think dems now exceed repubs].  Before the dems took over the lege, repubs registration exceeded dem registration.  It is a huge accomplishment on AR’s part that, as the face of the dem party, he was able to increase the appeal of the dem party such that voters were willing to put the dems in charge.  [well, some of the appeal was just plain natural charisma].

                      And who are the ‘elected officials’ you mention?  Ritter? O’Brien? Kennedy? They weren’t even elected until after the dems took over the lege.  Salazar?  He was too busy following the old dem playbook.  Did he even campaign for state level candidates? Hick?  He’s always run from the dem label.  As for ‘party volunteers,’ these people don’t typically flip voters from one party to another.

                      I would even argue that had the party not had someone like AR at the time of the comeback, the Colorado Comeback may very well have never happened [well, Hick has an appealing personality--if he had been in AR's place at the time, who knows...but, then again, did he ever campaign for state level candidates like AR did?].  No, I can’t think of anyone who, at that time, would have made dems appealing enough overall to result in the change in power.  

                    • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

                      Let me offer you a cold beer or a cup of hot coffee, should I be fortunate to cross paths with you. Your comment is an articulate construction of a point many…nay…all Bennet supporters with whom I have discussed this, don’t seem to get.

                      I distinctly remember working with the environmental community and the few legislators that had the cajones to support the “O&G rules legislation”. (We will always love you, Kathleen!) Every meeting ended with a comment like; “Well, Owens will just veto it. We’ll never have enough votes to override it, so I guess there’s nothing we can really do.”

                      I also clearly remember the absolutely stunned responses that came from practically everyone when we won the legislature. No one predicted it (or really believed it would happen).

                      When Andrew became the Speaker, things got done. Comments like, “Don’t worry, Romanoff will get it done, he’s the best.”, were commonplace and confidence in the Speakers’ leadership was palpable. There was a reason so many Democrats in Colorado preferred AR when the vacancy first appeared. Many try to trivialize his popularity as something adolescent, but Andrew is a leader because of his sincerity and his strength as a gifted communicator.

                      The party leadership has done what most party leaderships do. They are following the power structure as it stands. The status quo is almost always the domicile of those whose allegiance is to the largess of the corporate aristocracy. Not because they are bad people, but because they are system players…in a corrupted system. Many Bennetistas are good friends of mine (and I love you all, dearly), and I wish their perspective were the same as mine, but it’s OK. I think the dialogue is ultimately constructive.

                      Trying to change Congress, within Congress, is a fools’ errand. We change Congress at the ballot box. WE, the voters, will decide. I believe that whichever Democrat prevails, the Dems will keep the seat, though AR has a better chance (I think). Either way, we will have a good senator. If Andrew wins, we will have a great senator, .

                       

                    • MADCO says:

                      Your work is done- nicely done.

                      I’ll see on the GOTV front lines come Oct.

  4. Dan WillisDan Willis says:

    But I will wait to see if he has funding already lined up before I throw my hands up in total exasperation.

  5. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    We’ll find out in August and there’s no point in discussing it until then.

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