Fort Collins election: Opposition group spends almost $50,000 on Hughes ballot measure

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If all those campaign text messages and election mailers didn’t tip you off already, Fort Collins’ city election is upon us. Tuesday is the big day.

And with the waning municipal election season comes a wave of last-push political contributions — to the tune of $62,785 in the 10-day stretch between March 22 and March 31, according to the campaign finance reports due April 2. That total also includes independent expenditures reported since March 26. 

More than one-third of the last-minute contributions ($22,200) went to Stand with CSU, the issue committee campaigning against the Hughes Stadium ballot measure. Citizens for a Sustainable Economy, a nonprofit associated with the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, is responsible for all but $200 of the $49,075 in cumulative contributions to the Stand with CSU committee. The committee had spent $48,935 as of the April 2 report, with most of the money going toward mailers, digital advertising, a mobile billboard and live calls.

More:Fort Collins city election draws in over $330,000, including heavy outside spending

Friends of Hughes, the group advocating for the Hughes ballot measure to maintain the property as open space, has raised $14,451 and spent almost $10,000 of it, as of the last campaign finance report. The committee has spent most of its money on text-banking and yard signs.

Meanwhile, the Blueflower Action Independent Expenditure Committee on March 26 reported spending another $14,943 on mailers in support of mayoral candidate Jeni Arndt. That committee has now spent about $74,000 supporting Arndt, which puts the group neck-and-neck with Citizens for a Sustainable Economy for campaign spending in this election. 

Ens that make independent expenditures are barred from coordinating their efforts with candidates, and vice-versa. Independent expenditure groups spend money to support or oppose candidates or ballot measures without consulting the candidates or issue committees.

Last week:Hughes ballot measure attracts $43,000, election complaints and misleading mailer

Other contributions detailed in the most recent campaign finance reports included an influx of about $15,500 to candidate committees and another $3,500 in independent expenditures from Citizens for a Sustainable Economy. The latter funded digital advertising for council candidates Gavin Kaszynski and Nick Armstrong. CSE has reported $23,822 in independent expenditures on behalf of Kaszynski and Armstrong since the beginning of the campaign season.

The most recent round of contributions brings the total for this election so far to more than $390,000. The campaign finance reports due May 11 will include donations made during the last several days of the election cycle.

Guide:Fort Collins election 2021: Get to know the candidates and the issues

Jacy Marmaduke covers government accountability for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.