The other frustration was trying to figure out where they spent the money. It gets frustrating when your contributors end up being the recipients as well. You’ll do a search on the Neighborhood Project to find out their top five expenditures. Then you find out one of their top five expenditures is to Accountability for Colorado. And then one of Accountability for Colorado’s top expenditures might be back to the Neighborhood Project or to a different 527.

It’s not like they’re laundering money; it’s more like a cash-flow issue. The union gives money to a 527, and the 527 turns around later and gives money back to the union. They’re so networked. It’s like this committee only does canvassing, and “we don’t have enough money for canvassing right now, so we need you to give us money for that, but when we’re raising money next month, we’ll give it to you and you can use it for phone calls.”

How unique is the Colorado law that requires super PACs to disclose disbursements?

According to FollowTheMoney, nine states, including Colorado, meet that standard. Twelve states don’t require anything, and 32 states either don’t require disclosure of electioneering communications or don’t have a definition as strong as the federal definition.

Mary Winter has worked for seven newspapers, most recently the Denver Post, and was assistant managing editor at She spent the bulk of her career at the Rocky Mountain News, first in features and later managing the legislative and state government teams. In 2008, she oversaw delegate coverage at the Democratic National Convention for the paper. She wrote a weekly column for the News for 10 years.