Fort Collins leaders aim for transparency with new campaign spending rules

Fort Collins Coloradoan: It’ll probably be a little harder to tell who’s trying to influence your vote in Fort Collins elections next year – but not by much.

Fort Collins leaders voted to increase the reporting threshold for political campaign spending from $100 to $250, a smaller increase than the $1,000 threshold recommended by city staff.

The ordinance, which still needs to pass on second reading, will also require “paid for by” disclaimers on campaign communications from both registered committees and individuals. City staff had recommended mandatory disclaimers only for ads paid for by committees. The new requirements would take effect in time for city election season in 2019.

City council members unanimously voted to modify the rule from staff recommendations after about 10 community members spoke in favor of a more modest threshold increase. City staff and the community have been collaborating on the reforms for about six months.

“I do understand that $1,000 can buy a lot of influence,” city council member Kristin Stephens said. “The community’s clearly spoken to say they want more transparency.”

City staff came to the $1,000 recommendation because it mirrors the threshold of Colorado’s 172 statutory communities and the Colorado Constitution.

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