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Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity to launch campaigns against 2 Colo. ballot measures

Author: Erin Prater - September 24, 2018 - Updated: 2 hours ago

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This combination of 2013 and 2012 file photos shows brothers David, left, and Charles Koch. (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

The Colorado arm of Americans for Prosperity, the political advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, will launch two campaigns targeting ballot measures — one increasing oil and gas setbacks, the other increasing taxes on high earners to benefit education — the group announced Monday.

AFP declined to say how much it plans to spend on the pair of campaigns, which target Proposition 112 (the oil and gas measure) and Amendment 73 (the school-tax proposal).

“This election is not only pivotal because of the candidates on the ballot, but the potential to permanently burden Coloradans with more regulations and taxes,” AFP Colorado State Director Jesse Mallory said in a Monday statement. “Implementing Proposition 112 would cripple the energy industry, one of the main drivers of our state economy, and put many Coloradans out of work.

> RELATED: Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity to put money in Colo. races

“Amendment 73 is a risky proposal that only guarantees higher taxes, not better educational outcomes,” Mallory added. “The legislature should instead look at ways to increase funding by cutting wasteful spending, ending fraud and abuse, and eliminating handouts and tax loopholes for powerful and well-connected special interests.”

Proposition 112 asks voters to require a 2,500-foot setback for oil and gas operations from homes, schools and businesses, up from the current required setback of 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools.

Amendment 73 asks voters to change the state constitution to raise income taxes on high earners, as well as hike the state’s corporate tax rate, to improve K-12 education.

As Colorado Politics told you earlier this month, Colorado is one of a handful of states in which AFP is putting money directly behind candidates in the 2018 election. It’s the first time ever that the group has spent directly for Colorado candidates.

The powerhouse conservative organization plans to invest big in the three Republicans: Walker Stapleton in the governor’s race, incumbent Sen. Tim Neville of Littleton in Senate District 16 and Christine Jensen of Arvada in Senate District 20.

Americans for Prosperity is reviled on the political left for its ties to David and Charles Koch, the billionaire Wichita-based businessmen. The organization historically shapes policy and organizes grassroots efforts that are favorable to Republicans.

Colorado Politics’ Joey Bunch contributed to this report.

Erin Prater

Erin Prater

Erin Prater is Colorado Politics' digital editor. She is a multimedia journalist with 15 years of experience writing, editing and designing for newspapers, magazines, websites and publishing houses. Her previous positions include military reporter at The Gazette, general assignment reporter at The Huerfano County (Colo.) World, copy editor at David C. Cook publishing house and adjunct mass communication instructor at Pueblo Community College. Her bylines include The New York Times Upfront, The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Military Spouse magazine and Omaha Magazine (Omaha, Neb.). Her syndicated bylines include The Denver Post, MSNBC.com, Military.com and wire services.