Who’s behind Colorado’s campaign ads?

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Colorado voters are bombarded with political ads these days, and many of them are coming from outside interest groups hoping to sway voters. A look at some of the messages popping up in Colorado, who’s making the claims and where the money is coming from.

“THEY SPEND, YOU PAY”

-WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: About 100 billboards across Colorado attack Democratic incumbents with the message, “They Spend, You Pay.” The billboards show Sen. Michael Bennet, Reps. Betsy Markey, Ed Perlmutter and John Salazar and gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper alongside President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The billboards encourage voters to “Stop Payment.”

-WHO’S BEHIND IT: A Denver-based conservative advocacy group called “Who Said You Said.” The group captures Democratic candidates on camera, focusing on taxation and economy. The group’s tax status doesn’t require it to disclose its funders.

-HOW MUCH IT COST: Who Said You Said co-founder Kelly Maher said the group may spend “hundreds of thousands” but wouldn’t elaborate.

“JUST PLAIN WRONG FOR COLORADO”

-WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: A television ad that started airing this week in Denver criticizes Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck for a comment he made a decade ago as a federal prosecutor. Buck was reprimanded for discussing problems in a federal gun case with a defense attorney, though his boss at the time (now-Attorney General John Suthers) acknowledged in a reprimand of Buck that Buck’s remark was unintentional. The pawn shop gun case ultimately produced a misdemeanor conviction for one of the shop’s operators, and Buck apologized for the remark in June.

-WHO’S BEHIND IT: Campaign Money Watch, a group that has received financing from Democratic-leaning donors.

-HOW MUCH IT COST: The ad buy was $750,000 in the Denver market only, according to the group.

“HE GAMBLED WITH OUR TEACHERS’ RETIREMENTS”

-WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: A television ad that started airing this week criticizes Bennet for encouraging a pension plan for Denver Public Schools employees while Bennet was superintendent. The New York Times reported over the summer that the pension deal was a questionable one, though Bennet has insisted the financing scheme is a good one.

-WHO’S BEHIND IT: American Crossroads, a group affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove.

-HOW MUCH IT COST: American Crossroads has spent $2.6 million this year attacking Bennet, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan watchdog group that tracks campaign spending.

“HEARTLESS”

-WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: Another new television ad this week attacks Republican state Rep. Cory Gardner, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey. The ad shows a Centennial woman with an autistic son saying Gardner “heartlessly opposed coverage for autism” because of a 2009 vote in the state Legislature against a bill to add coverage requirements for insurance companies.

-WHO’S BEHIND IT: EMILY’s List, which backs female candidates supporting abortion rights.

-HOW MUCH IT COST: A group affiliated with EMILY’s List has set aside $294,000 this year to oppose Gardner, according to the Sunlight Foundation.