The ProgressNow Colorado Education Fund is a left-of-center advocacy organization pushing for state-level policy in Colorado. It is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm of the advocacy group ProgressNow Colorado.
A campaign finance complaint filed in 2019 alleges that ProgressNow Colorado and the fund were involved in an arrangement to avoid campaign finance disclosure requirements for a contribution from Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s Sergey Brin Family Foundation in a failed campaign to pass a ballot measure severely restricting energy resource extraction. 1
ProgressNow, the left-of-center state policy and agitation group with which both the fund and its parent group ProgressNow Colorado are affiliated, was founded in 2003 as the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network. It is is a left-wing 501(c)(4) advocacy organization. 2 In 2006, the group began to expand its network outside of Colorado by developing the ProgressNow Partners Networks in 21 states. 3
The fund is listed, along with its parent organization ProgressNow Colorado, as endorsing the liberal leaning group American for Tax Fairness,4 which supports increasing taxes to increase federal revenues and advocates against tax decreases. 5
Campaign Finance Complaint
A campaign finance complaint filed on January 23, 2019 by former Colorado State Senate policy director Charles Heatherly alleges that the fund, or its affiliated parent organization ProgressNow Colorado, received $170,000 from the Sergey Brin Family Foundation to advocate for the ultimately unsuccessful Colorado Proposition 112, which proposed a 2,500-foot setback for new oil and gas developments, a regulation that would prohibit much current gas extraction in the state. 67
The campaign finance complaint alleged, “The Sergey Brin Family Foundation contributed $170,000 to ProgressNow Colorado, which used the funds to support Proposition 112. Rather than file as an issue committee, however, ProgressNow Colorado – or its affiliated organization ProgressNow Colorado Education Fund – treated its issue advocacy as a ‘contribution’ to Colorado Rising, a reporting issue committee.” 8
ProgressNow Colorado executive director Ian Silverii claimed the money was given for general operations (not to support Proposition 112), and that the ballot committee Colorado Rising had reported the contribution in error. 9
Ian Silverii works as executive director of ProgressNow Colorado Education Fund and its parent organization ProgressNow Colorado. Prior to joining ProgressNow, he worked as chief of staff to former Colorado State House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder). 10
Silverii replaced Amy Runyon-Harms, who worked as executive director of the fund and from May 2013 until January 2016. Prior to joining the fund, Runyon-Harms was the director of political outreach for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. 11 12
- Gessler, Scott. “Campaign complaint will test mettle of our newly minted secretary of state.” Colorado Politics. January 30, 2019. Accessed March 22, 2019. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/opinion/the-podium-campaign-complaint-will-test-mettle-of-our-newly/article_fa27028e-241b-11e9-8728-b76a0eb90f63.html
- Roberts, Michael. “Making Progress.” Westword. August 9, 2007. Accessed March 20, 2019. http://www.westword.com/2007-08-09/news/making-progress/
- Evans, Will. “Profile: Progress Now Action.” National Public Radio. August 4, 2008. Accessed March 20, 2019. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92997421
- “Endorsements.” American For Tax Fairness. Accessed March 20, 2019. https://americansfortaxfairness.org/endorsements/
- “Mission Program.” American For Tax Fairness. Accessed March 20, 2019. https://americansfortaxfairness.org/mission-program/
- Agular, John. “Prop 112 fails as voters say no to larger setbacks for oil and gas.” The Denver Post. November 6, 2018. Accessed March 20, 2019. https://www.denverpost.com/2018/11/06/colorado-proposition-112-results/
- Gessler, Scott. “Campaign complaint will test mettle of our newly minted secretary of state.” Colorado Politics. January 30, 2019. Accessed March 20, 2019. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/opinion/the-podium-campaign-complaint-will-test-mettle-of-our-newly/article_fa27028e-241b-11e9-8728-b76a0eb90f63.html
- Pief, Sherrie. “Former policy director for Senate GOP files campaign finance complaint naming co-founder of Google.” The Complete Colorado. January 23, 2019. Accessed March 20, 2019. https://pagetwo.completecolorado.com/2019/01/23/former-policy-director-for-state-senate-files-campaign-finance-complaint-naming-co-founder-of-google/
- Shepherd, Todd. “Sergey Brin Foundation Named in Dark-Money Campaign Finance Complaint.” Washington Free Beacon. January 29, 2019. Accessed March 22, 2019. https://freebeacon.com/issues/sergey-brin-foundation-named-in-dark-money-campaign-finance-complaint/.
- “Ian Silverii Announced as Executive Director of ProgressNow Colorado.” ProgressNow Colorado. February 28, 2019. Accessed March 22, 2019. https://progressnowcolorado.org/2016/06/01/ian-silverii-announced-executive-director-progressnow-colorado/.
- “Amy Runyon-Harms leaving ProgressNow Colorado.” The Denver Post. January 15, 2016. Accessed March 20, 2019. https://www.denverpost.com/2016/01/15/amy-runyon-harms-leaving-progressnow-colorado/
- ProgressNow Education Fund, Form 990-PF, 2015, Part VII