Campaign finance primer: What do soft, hard and dark money actually mean?

The Colorado Independent: Dark money. Soft money. Hard money.

When it comes to campaign cash, it’s complicated.

So, as the 2018 election cycle heats up, here’s some clarification about what certainly will be an infusion of tens of millions of dollars into Colorado campaigns, with examples and some resources to explore further. Also, a movie suggestion!

Disclosure: Congress and the Federal Election Commission set the rules for how much candidates and political action committees (PACs) may accept in contributions and how transparent they need to be in revealing where donations come from and where the money is spent. Traditional PACs are, for the most part, subject to donation limits, and are limited in the donations they make to candidates or other committees.

Super PACs may accept unlimited donations and spend unlimited amounts as long as they don’t coordinate with candidates, or their campaigns, but we’ll get to them in a bit.

At the state level, each state has its own laws and rules on campaign finance disclosure. The Washington-based Campaign Finance Institute has a super-cool online tool to explore disclosure laws in all 50 states. Among the things you’ll learn there: Colorado had the second-lowest donation limit for legislative candidates in the nation in 2016. Also, we’re one of only 10 states that didn’t require disclosure on all political ads in 2016.

Visit The Colorado Independent for more.

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