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Spotlight on: Guns and Campaign Money

The national debate on regulation of guns in America has reignited in Washington, DC recently.  According to polls conducted for years by Gallup, Americans have long been divided on whether or not gun regulations should be made more strict.  
While general questions about gun regulations tend to show a divide in America, some specific policies are widely supported.  For example, Gallup found last October that 86% of Americans favor universal background checks for all gun purchases in the U.S. using a centralized database across all 50 states.  Other polls have found similarly high support for universal background checks over the past several years.  (Under current law, background checks are required for sales by federally licensed gun dealers.  However, background checks are not required for gun sales by private sellers.)

Despite this broad support, votes to require universal background checks have repeatedly failed in Congress over the past few years. (To be clear, does not have a position as an organization on the regulation of guns).

As one can easily imagine, millions of dollars have been spent in the last few years by groups on both sides of the debate over universal background checks and other changes to the law.

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Denver Democracy for the People Initiative has partnered with several other groups in the Denver area (Colorado Common Cause, Colorado Public Interest Research Group, Colorado Ethics Watch, Denver League of Women Voters, and the Metro Denver Chapter of Represent.Us).  We are working to put a measure on the November 2016 ballot in Denver to change the way campaigns are funded in City of Denver elections.  Below is the summary language that will appear on the ballot (the ballot title) and full ordinance text:

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Special Interest Money Is Growing

As we highlight in the materials in our Clean Election Toolkit, special interest groups utilize PACs, Super PACs, and Dark Money spending to buy influence in politics.  Here at, we have been tracking the money into these groups and how they are used to fund, support, or oppose candidates across the country.  

Thanks to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, we can now track money flowing through PACs, Super PACs, and Dark Money groups dating back to 2010, the year the Supreme Court opened the door to Super PAC and Dark Money groups with their ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.

Below are some highlights from what we found:

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Jon Oliver Summarizes What's Wrong with Congressional Fundraising

Ever wonder why so many Members of Congress are happy to take PAC money?

Jon Oliver explains...

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Presidential Campaign Fundraising Update

Last week, we updated you on the amount of special interest political action committee (PAC) money that has already been donated to current members of the House of Representatives.  This week, we focus on campaign spending in the Presidential race among the remaining six major party candidates (there are over 150 candidates who officials file reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC)).  

For this analysis, we report on two different ways to impact campaigns: (1) direct contributions to each of the candidates' campaigns and (2) independent expenditures made by Super PACs and other special interest groups.

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