Weissman: Mystery money is drowning democracy

The Colorado Independent: There are less than 100 days until Election Day on November 6th, and under Colorado’s mail ballot election system Coloradans will start voting even sooner than that. So it’s not surprising that campaign flyers are already showing up in mailboxes across our state.

What may surprise you is that under our state’s currently flawed campaign finance laws, it’s perfectly legal for some types of organizations to distribute campaign flyers anonymously – without any indication of who paid for them.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, unaffiliated or none of the above, this should bother you. Colorado voters deserve to know who is trying to influence our elections.

Certain forms of communications – like when a flyer from a third party organization specifically asks you to vote for a candidate – must include a disclaimer, which is a note indicating who paid for the communication. That information lets voters to do their own research or go online to find out more about that organization. But some forms of communications are not required to include that disclaimer, thereby allowing so-called “mystery money” to influence our elections.

Colorado’s disclaimer law needs to be expanded to cover the types of election ads that we see today. This lack of transparency encourages political flyers that are misleading or based on inaccurate information – or both – which lowers the level of our democratic discourse.

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