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DENVER (KDVR) — The City of Denver allocated some of your tax money to help candidates in their campaigns for city office positions. They did get permission first, voters approved the creation of the Fair Elections Fund back in 2018. Now they are starting to shell out the first round of payments.

The upcoming 2023 election year is shaping up to be an interesting one for races in Denver. Some candidates will have extra money to spend thanks to this new fund.

You may not remember it but about 70% of Denver residents overwhelmingly passed an initiative that designates taxpayer money to help city candidate campaigns.

“It went directly to the voters, and we said we want to be able to match funds for this particular initiative and so it’s been a while. We went to the end of that cycle so we’re starting to administer it this year,” Lucille Wenegieme, strategic advisor for the Denver Office of Clerk and Recorder said.

Money in the fund comes from a $2.88/per resident tax. It matches contributions of up to $50 by 900%, meaning a $50 campaign contribution could be matched by $450 from the fund.

“The entire fund is $8 million. We disbursed $995,054.94, it feels like a big number. And that is really all of the funds that have qualified from January 1 of 2020 all the way to June 30th of this year. So all the candidates that have both qualified and have met the threshold for those funds have gotten their match,” Wenegieme said.

In order to participate in the fund, candidates have to have a certain number of contributions. Those contributions can’t exceed a certain amount. The totals are different for every office:

  • Mayor: Cannot receive donations over $500, must have 250 contributions
  • City Councilmember at-Large: Cannot receive donations over $350, must have 100 contributions 
  • District City Councilmembers: Cannot receive donations over $200, must have 100 contributions 

“We won’t know exactly what those numbers are going to be like for each disbursement because it depends on what the candidates do. It depends on what the voters do in terms of their contributions,” Wenegieme said.

The Elections Division said they do not have another disbursement scheduled yet but they plan to report the distributions quarterly and expect to have another update around October.