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Pro-A66 funding topped $11 million

Spending on the failed pro-Amendment 66 campaign to overhaul state funding for education topped $11 million, according to final finance reports filed Thursday.

The bulk of that money came from Colorado Commits to Kids, the campaign committee that drove the pro-A66 campaign. The committee received a total of $11,079,408 in contributions, including $839,270 in the final week leading up to the election.

The Walton Family Foundation, Fort Collins philanthropist Pat Stryker, and Houston hedge fund billionaire John Arnold are among the committee’s big contributors. Previous filings revealed major donations from outgoing New York City Major Michael Bloomberg and Bill and Melinda Gates.

The Walton Family Foundation, which supports education reform initiatives in several states, gave $150,000 under the name Sam Walton during the last filing period. Pat Stryker gave $1 million, including $175,000 in the last reporting period. Stryker is a major contributor to the Democratic Party.

Also of note were smaller contributions from education associations in St. Vrain, Mesa County, Poudre, Pueblo, Jefferson County, Pikes Peak, Brighton, Littleton and Westminster. Here are other significant contributors in the final reporting period:

  • The American Federation of Teachers, the national teachers’ union, gave $100,000.
  • The Service Employees International Union, which includes public school and healthcare employees, gave $100,000.
  • Bell Policy Action Committee contributed $23,249.

In the final days of the campaign, the committee spent $315,00 on advertising through Media Strategies and Research, a Denver company. Other big expenditures included $142,040 to Fieldworks, which ran the campaign’s canvassing efforts; $333,365 to TBWB, a San Francisco-based elections consultant; $369,583 to Chism Strategies, another consulting firm.

The campaign against A66 gained traction in the final days of the campaign, raising the bulk of its funding during the final reporting period.

Coloradans for Real Education Reform, A66’s primary opponents, raised a total of $145,800, with nearly two thirds of that coming in the final reporting period. The overwhelming majority of their funds, $110,600, came from the Independence Institute, a libertarian/conservative think thank. The committee spent $124,817, largely on political consulting and advertising.

Another group, Kids Before Unions, raised a total of $12,783, including $1,140 in the final reporting period. Roughly a third of that went to robocalls and radio ads opposing the amendment.

For more on the A66 campaign and other election coverage, see our story archive here.

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