We have often noted Mayor Paul’s unique political ability to get opposing political interests to support his agenda (see previous blog Strange Bedfellows). With the introduction of dark money through the use of new campaign finance committees, called independent expenditure committees, we now have one of the most bizarre couplings so far. Traditionally, the establishment has its unions, in this case the Police Union and the West Metro Firefighters Union, endorse and donate to Paul and his political allies. In the latest election, Paul had the unions endorse Kyra DeGruy for City Council Ward 1
This seems strange on its face since the incumbent Ramey Johnson has been a staunch supporter of our public safety employees. She and Roybal even went to bat for the officers to improve their quarters at a local substation. Ramey used her own money to donate stuffed animals for the first responders to give to kids in a crisis.
None of that matters when there are big bucks at stake. Paul convinced the unions it is in their financial interests to support more housing development. The rationale is more people coming into the community will create more work for public safety personnel and therefore provide a rationale for hiring more officers. Another rationale is more people might mean more tax revenues. This later argument may not actually work out as the unions intend. As a general rule, more housing is a net money loser to the City. The additional tax revenues are less than the costs of providing services, such as public safety, to the newcomers. This net drain on the city budget could then lead to cutbacks in government spending and services.
This is where we have to connect the dots to follow a money trail. The first dot is the public safety unions endorsing Paul’s candidate in Ward 1 – Kyra DeGruy.
The next series of dots follow the money needed to exploit DeGruy’s new connection to the public safety unions. This entails the need for money for mailers, facebook ads, etc. This is where we follow the long twisted money trail.
In a previous blog (see Forms Attack Committees), we discussed how Paul had his allies create new funding sources. You may recall City election laws limit donors to a cap of $2,500 per candidate. So the problem was how to get around that limit and at the same time keep the voters ignorant of the source of this money. This is where the concept of dark money comes into play. Donors contribute to some sort of PAC. This PAC then proceeds to donate to an “independent expenditure” committee. The independent expenditure committee then spends the money on behalf of their candidate (the funds can’t go directly to the candidate’s committee, ergo the “independent” part).
In this case, marijuana businesses donated $10,000 to a PAC called “Responsible Lakewood“. This group is run by Joseph Max Cohen, who is the largest marijuana retailer in Colorado. Cohen’s marijuana money was then donated to a new independent expenditure committee called Lakewood Voter Information Project. This group was formed a couple months by a guy named Kaleb Young who lives in Ft. Collins.
Why would a guy in Ft. Collins be interested in Lakewood City Council elections? The answer is Kaleb was Adam Paul’s former roommate. Older residents may remember when Paul was first running for City Council a decade ago, there were a couple letters to the editor, that Adam wrote and Kaleb submitted under his name. After Kaleb left Lakewood to live in Ft. Collins he became somewhat of a local celebrity. When the Ft. Collins police raided Kaleb’s marijuana caretaker business they destroyed his marijuana crop. Kaleb then proceeded to sue the City of Ft. Collins for reimbursement for his lost crop.
Back to Lakewood. Adam Paul/Kaleb Young’s independent expenditure committee then proceeded to spend the $10,000 (far in excess of the $2,500 legal limit) they got from the marijuana businesses on mailers to support Kyra DeGruy’s campaign. Thus the final dot is connected.
Does DeGruy know the money is coming from marijuana sales? Better yet, does the police union realize they are now in league with the marijuana industry?
Like the saying goes, politics creates strange bedfellows. Strange, indeed.