Jeffco recall organizers triple war chest

The campaign to recall three Jefferson County school board members continues to pull in impressive sums, raking in nearly $150,000 in donations during the last 30 days, records show.

Jeffco United for Action’s total fundraising since its mid-June launch stands at $190,899, according to campaign finance reports with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

That’s almost double the stated fundraising goal of the political 527 group, a committee that can raise and spend an unlimited amount on ballot questions. It’s nearly 10 times the amount spent by a committee two years ago that helped elect the three reform-minded Republican board members now targeted for recall.

Another 527 group opposing the recall effort, Kids are First Jeffco, registered with the state on Aug. 10 and has yet to report any donation information.

The recall organizers’ burgeoning war chest doesn’t mean fundraising will slow anytime soon, said spokeswoman Lynea Hansen.

“We expect to continue to raise money,” Hansen. “And we expect with students heading back to school, the word about how to support us will only grow.”

The majority of the money reported late Thursday evening — $90,000 — was donated from the organization’s nonprofit arm, Jeffco United.

Because Jeffco United is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, it is able to raise an unlimited amount of money then funnel that money to the 527 group without disclosing the donors’ identities.

While recall organizers accuse board members Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk of a lack of transparency, Hansen portrayed the campaign donor issue in different terms.

“It’s the field of play with how campaigns are run today,” Hansen said. “You don’t know who is donating to Jeffco Student First or American for Prosperity.”

Those organizations, both registered as nonprofits with the government, broadly support the three school board members subject to the recall.

Jeffco United for Action’s single largest donor during the reporting period of July 7 through Aug. 8 was businessman Robert Pew.

Pew, who is chairman of the Michigan-based office furniture manufacturer Steelcase, inked a check for $25,000.

Pew owns a home near Aspen and has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and issues since 2010, according to a review of state and federal campaign finance reports. He’s given to Jefferson County lawmakers including state Sen. Andy Kerr and Rep. Max Tyler. Most recently he gave $5,000 to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s re-election campaign.

Pew did not immediately return a request for comment.

An analysis of Jeffco United for Action’s most recent campaign finance report found an extension of earlier patterns. Most donations were small — the average donation was $93 — and were from Coloradans. Fewer than a dozen of the donors listed an out of state address.