Big money continues to pour into the fight over who controls Jefferson County classrooms, new campaign finance records show.
Since the recall effort was launched in June, an estimated $1 million has been raised by groups on both sides of the fight.
The latest round of reports filed with the Secretary of State — which covers a small window of Oct. 16-22 — continues to show supporters of the recall have the edge in reported donations. But a new contribution to the committee opposing the recall has narrowed that gap slightly.
Colorado Independent Action, a nonprofit linked to the libertarian think tank The Independence Institute, contributed $75,000 to Kids Are First Jeffco, the political committee that opposes the recall of the three conservative school board members, in the latest filing period.
The donation from Independent Action to Kids Are First Jeffco was the single largest donation during the reporting period. Reports from campaigns and committees involved in the Jefferson County school board recall were due at midnight Tuesday.
Kids Are First Jeffco spent all $75,000 on advertising with a Denver-based company called Colorado Media Group, according to records.
While donations to recall supporters slowed down during the latest reporting period, the groups still holds an edge in total reported contributions.
Jeffco United for Action, the organization that initiated the recall, reported raising $3,110 in the period. It spent $23,997, mostly on advertising.
Jeffco United Forward, the committee that is backing a slate of candidates to reset the entire board, raised $630 in non-itemized contributions. Tapping into money it had previously raised, it spent $9,980, mostly with the consulting firm Strategies 360.
Contributions to recall targets and the candidates seeking to replace them were more mixed.
Recall targets continued to raised little campaign funds on their own. Jeffco school board president Ken Witt raised $575. John Newkirk raised $1,345. Julie Williams didn’t report any new contributions.
By contrast, members of the so-called Clean Slate who are seeking to replace the conservative school board majority raised and spent impressive sums. Ron Mitchell raised $10,783. Brad Rupert recorded $14,198 in contributions. And Susan Harmon added $5,515 to her war chest.
Big contributors to their campaigns include the county’s teachers union’s small donor committee and a rancher from Boulder, John Powers, who has given generously to Democrats in the past, according to records.
The union’s small donor committee donated $9,000 to Rupert and $6,000 to Mitchell during the seven-day reporting period. During the same time, Powers donated $4,000 to Harmon and $3,500 to Mitchell.
The three candidates, who are also backed by recall supporters, continued to spend thousands of dollars on advertising with Mad Dog Mail, a Democratic marketing company in Florida.
Other candidates in the recall election raised considerably less money — if any.
Regan Benson raised $200, according to records. Neither Paula Noonan nor Matt Dhieux recorded any new contributions.
The final reporting deadline for committees in the recall election is Dec. 3.
Candidates and committees involved in the regular election that features two school board seats in the state’s second largest school district are due at midnight Friday.
The total amount spent on the recall will never be known because organizations like the Colorado Independent Action and Americans For Prosperity, which supports the school board majority’s policies, aren’t required to file with the secretary of state so long as they don’t expressly advocate for or against particular candidates.
Recall supporters have a nonprofit of their own that is not required to disclose its donors. That nonprofit, Jeffco United made an early donation of about $90,000 to the recall effort.