As reported by the Colorado Springs Independent last week, another major Republican insider-run “grassroots” advocacy group is attacking former Republican state attorney general-cum-Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, who as our readers know had the temerity to ask the conservative voters of Colorado Springs for–gasp–a tax increase to fix that conservative bastion’s famously crappy roads:
IACE Action – CS, a 504(c)4 organization that doesn’t have to reveal its donors, is opposing Mayor John Suthers’ .62 of a percent sales tax hike on the November 3 ballot.
IACE Action is run by Laura Carno, a political operative who ran Steve Bach’s successful campaign for mayor in 2011. IACE, or I Am Created Equal, provided thousands of dollars worth of in-kind donations for the El Paso Freedom Defense Committee, the issue committee largely responsible for the successful recall of Democratic Senate President John Morse in 2013.
IACE has mounted a website that contains a video explaining why people should vote “no.”
It has not filed a campaign finance report yet for the November election. It did file two reports for the April city election. One reported no donations or spending. The other reported one donation of $3,452 from IACE Action, and spending to a Highlands Ranch company for digital media and to a St. Paul, Minn., company for robo calls.
Laura Carno and her “I Am Created Equal” 501(c)(4) advocacy group frequently runs cover for Republican causes and candidates from a “woman’s point of view,” most famously last October when she penned a widely circulated op-ed for the Denver Post that asserted women’s reproductive rights “are not in danger” from anti-abortion Republican candidates. That those candidates included a member of Carno’s advisory board–Bob “IUDs are abortifacient” Beauprez–was apparently lost on the Denver Post, but since they were in the process of making essentially the same absurd argument to endorse Cory Gardner, that little conflict of interest didn’t trouble them.
In a guest advertisement opinion column in the Gold Dome Thrifty Nickel Colorado Statesman today, Carno details her opposition to Mayor Suthers’ request for a five-year sales tax increase to pay for road construction in Colorado Springs:
No one disputes the need for road repairs. The dispute arises over how best to pay for them…
Americans For Prosperity Colorado hired Steve Anderson, a CPA with experience in municipal budgets, to review the city’s budgets and audits and propose options within the existing city budget to find an annual $50 million for road repairs — without raising taxes. Anderson came up with many ideas and Americans for Prosperity Colorado detailed these ideas for the mayor and the City Council.
But the mayor and the City Council aren’t interested in Anderson’s proposals. They want the tax increase. It might seem like an easier path for city leaders to raise taxes than to make difficult decisions in city government. But it’s their job to make difficult decisions…
As we discussed in August, the “alternatives” from Americans For Prosperity don’t stand up to scrutiny. Mayor Suthers told the Colorado Springs Gazette that AFP didn’t even talk to anyone involved in the city budget–either in the finance office or a committee of citizens tasked with reviewing the budget every year. According to Suthers, AFP’s suggestions were completely ignorant of basic realities about where the city gets and spends its money, even suggesting that the city “tax churches and nonprofits” instead of raising the sales tax.
Bottom line: you’ve got several competing Republican interests at work here, and the result may be nothing but bad news for Colorado Springs. On the one hand, Mayor John Suthers is in charge of a city with desperately bad roads–easily some of the worst urban road conditions in the entire state. For thinking conservatives, a run-down Colorado Springs with awful roads doesn’t do much to promote their worldview. Only a totally hardened ideologue would look at bad roads in a conservative Mecca and see a good thing, right?
But alas, this is a nationally-known conservative Mecca, and to raise taxes in the city of Douglas “Mr. TABOR” Bruce would be an admission that the reviled public sector sometimes does good and necessary things with our tax dollars. Besides the military, of course, that taxpayer-funded government entity Colorado Springs’ economy is utterly dependent on for survival–but we digress. If GOP-owned and operated Colorado Springs, the very birthplace of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights were to rise taxes on itself, people might start to talk. Indeed, the whole edifice of Colorado Springs’ hard-right talk radio “drown gubmint in the bathtub” culture might begin to crumble.
Or maybe not, but Laura Carno still got a check to go to war on fellow Republican Mayor John Suthers! Thus proving something else very important in today’s politics: the GOP’s paid operative “grassroots activist” industrial complex is never more than a disgruntled donor away from eating their own.