Bloomberg, Melinda Gates Join Big Contributors to Colorado’s Amendment 66 Campaign

Two more big names – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Melinda Gates – kicked in $1 million each to an effort to convince Coloradans to raise income taxes to support K-12 education.

Bloomberg Philanthropies gave $1,050,000 on Oct. 16 and Gates gave $1 million on Oct. 17. The two largest contributors are two teachers’ unions. The National Education Association and the Colorado Education Association have given $2 million each.

So far, Colorado Commits to Kids has raised more than $10 million in support of Amendment 66, compared with about $41,000 raised by opponents. Information on campaign donors for Amendment 66 and Proposition AA, an effort to tax retail marijuana sales, may be found at votersedge.org/colorado, a joint project of I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS and Maplight.

The collation of teachers’ unions and philanthropists such as Gates and Wal-Mart heir Ben Walton, who gave $500,000, are relatively rare, as New York Times columnist Frank Bruni pointed out Tuesday. Walton’s family is particularly supportive of charter schools, often opposed by unions.

About $4.5 million of million of Colorado Commits to Kids’ money has gone to Media Strategies and Research of Denver for advertising. Another $3 has gone to Fieldworks, which collected ballot signatures and is now canvassing for the initiative.

Kids Are First, a project of the libertarian think tank Independence Institute, is running TV ads against tax hikes that don’t mention Amendment 66 specifically. Because the institute is a nonprofit, it doesn’t have to report donors.

A donation page says the group has raised $734,250 toward a $1 million goal. None of the four Denver television stations required to file political advertising contracts with the Federal Communications Commission have filed contracts with the Independence Institute or Kids are First.

Another nonprofit group, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, is also running advertisements. The group spent more than $80,000 for 78 spots on KMGH (PDF) and $32,500 for 72 spots on KDVR (PDF).

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