The campaign for the usually little-noticed position of Colorado Attorney General has been jolted with a stunning influx of outside money — a total one candidate says is more than quadruple the largest amount ever spent by a candidate for the position.
The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) has reportedly reserved a historic $2.6 million television ad buy in support of Colorado Republican attorney general nominee Cynthia Coffman. The group has received significant funding from the fossil fuel industry — and dark money groups backed by petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch. Probably not coincidentally, Coffman is a staunch supporter of the oil and gas industry who has vowed to use the position to protect the rights of frackers and drillers.
RAGA is a Washington, DC-based “527” political organization dedicated to helping elect and re-elect Republicans across the country to be state attorneys general and to help them in “fighting federal encroachment, protecting citizens against crime and promoting free markets.” So far this election cycle, it has disclosed about $7.4 million in contributions. The ad buy marks the group’s biggest reported expenditure to date.
Of these contributions, at least $868,400 came from Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and other energy sector companies and trade associations, a ThinkProgress analysis of IRS data revealed. This accounted for more than 11 percent of RAGA’s funding, as of June 30. Another $1,204,700 came from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which receives a large amount of its funding from energy companies and Koch-backed entities. The Kochs have also supported conservative political organization that contributed to RARA, including the American Future Fund ($670,000) and the Republican Governors Association ($175,000).
Attorneys general play a huge role in choosing which state regulations to defend in court, how much effort will go to prosecuting environmental crimes, and what whether to challenge EPA rules in court. Coffman’s opponent, Democratic nominee Don Quick, highlights on his campaign website that he as Colorado AG would “strengthen and expand our efforts to protect all of Colorado’s natural resources” and “make protection of our land, water and wildlife” a top priority.
But Coffman’s site takes the opposite approach, making clear her strong fealty to Big Energy. In a section called “Oil and Gas,” she calls the industry “integral to Colorado’s economic health as well as to the U.S. energy supply.” If elected, Coffman pledges to take action against localities who try to prevent fracking, which “effectively deprive landowners and companies of their property rights in contravention of the law.”
“Similarly,” she says, “bans pertaining to oil and gas processes result in an odd patchwork of regulations that serve to impede activity deemed necessary by the Colorado General Assembly.” Should local groups or governments try to impede the oil and gas industry, she vows, she would “enforce the law — even if it means taking overreaching, anti-drilling jurisdictions to court.”
A poll of Colorado voters taken in May found strong support among respondents for giving cities and towns more authority over oil and gas development in their communities.
As of July 1, Coffman reported having raised $252,820, total, for her campaign. While her July fundraising totals are not yet available, the RAGA expenditure would be more than ten times Coffman’s own haul through June 25.