Colorado has its share of big political spenders |

Colorado has its share of big political spenders

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Deep-pocket donors in Colorado are doing their part to help the presidential candidates pile up eye-popping amounts of cash.

A review of fundraising totals for Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain by The Denver Post published Friday shows millions are coming from Colorado’s wealthy.

The donations were made not to candidates themselves but to auxiliary committees set up to skirt campaign finance limits, allowing rich political donors to shell out unlimited amounts.

One Boulder consultant donated $33,100 to Obama. Former Broncos quarterback John Elway wrote McCain a check for $20,000. The candidates’ committees ” including McCain Victory 2008 and Obama’s Campaign for Change ” have hauled in more than $7.5 million from Coloradans, according to federal disclosures reported by the newspaper.

The records showed McCain has received $4.5 million from Coloradans for his victory committees, and about 70 percent of that is from 69 donors giving $20,000 or more.

Obama has hauled in $3.1 million for his joint fundraising committees from Colorado residents, with 28 percent coming from 30 people who contributed $20,000 or more. Those big donations are many times in excess of direct fundraising limits of $4,600 to any individual candidates for their primary and general campaigns.

The high dollar amounts have watchdog groups questioning whether federal campaign limits are doing enough to keep candidates clear of deep-pocket influence.

“These committees violate the spirit of federal election law, which prevents candidates from taking so much money from someone that it could corrupt or unduly influence them,” said Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a nonprofit advocacy group for consumer interests in Congress.

A donor can write a check to a joint fundraising committee that covers the $4,600 candidate maximum for both the primary and the general election, plus the $28,500 limit to the national political party for a total of $33,100.

McCain’s victory fund is affiliated with a handful of state parties (which can receive up to $10,000 each), as well as $2,300 for a legal compliance fund. The top check McCain can legally receive is $70,100.

In Colorado, 36 people contributed more than $50,000 to McCain, including Hassan Alaghband, director of Balli Real Estate Ltd. ($70,100), and his wife, Farah Asemi ($70,100); David Merage, a frozen-food manufacturer ($70,100); and Thomas Marsico, founder of Marsico Capital Management ($66,800).

Big donors to Obama include Holly Lev, a self-employed Boulder consultant ($33,100); Harry Frampton, managing partner of real estate company East West Partners ($28,500); and Kenneth Tuchman, CEO of TeleTech ($28,500).

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