Other Group

Colorado Families First (Yes on 118)

Location:

Denver, CO

Type:

Ballot Initiative Campaign Committee

Registered Agent:

Carmen Medrano

Status:

Dissolved

Colorado Families First, also known as Yes on 118, was a ballot initiative campaign supporting a left-leaning statewide paid family leave payroll tax and mandate proposal titled Proposition 118 that was on the ballot in Colorado during the 2020 election. The proposal was passed with 57% of the vote, making Colorado the first state to pass such a measure via ballot initiative. The Colorado Families First campaign was supported by dozens of left-leaning advocacy groups, labor unions, and Democratic politicians including Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Colorado AFL-CIO, and the Colorado Democratic Party. The campaign was largely funded through the left-leaning “dark money” group the Sixteen Thirty Fund. The organization was dissolved at the end of 2020 following the passage of Prop 118. [1] [2]

The organization drew scrutiny from mainstream media after Politico reported that left-of-center “dark money” group the Sixteen Thirty Fund would spend $410 million nationally during the 2020 elections. Tax records from the Sixteen Thirty Fund revealed that it gave $2.6 million to Colorado Families First in 2020. [3] [4]

Background

Colorado Families First was formed during the 2020 election cycle to support Colorado Proposition 118. Proposition 118 was a paid family leave proposal that required all businesses with over ten employees in Colorado to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave to employees annually, with the leave being funded by a payroll tax split evenly among employers and employees. The proposal also called for an extra four weeks of paid family leave for pregnancy and childbirth complications. [5]

Funding and Opposition

The organization was one of two registered campaigns supporting the proposition with the other being the AARPCO Committee to Support Proposition 118, which was a project of AARP Colorado. Both committees reported a combined $9 million in contributions with the largest two donors being left-of-center “dark money” groups, with the North Fund giving $4.4 million and the Sixteen Thirty Fund giving $3 million combined to both groups. The Sixteen Thirty Fund gave $2.6 million of its funding for the proposal to Colorado Families First.

Only one organization, Not Now Colorado, was registered to oppose proposition 118 and was largely outspent by Colorado Families First and AARP Colorado. Not Now Colorado spent $796,000 in contrast to over $9 million raised by Families First Colorado and the AARPCO Committee to Support Proposition 118. [6]

People

The registered agent listed on disclosures by Families First Colorado was Carmen Medrano. Medrano is the executive director of left-leaning advocacy group United for a New Economy and previously worked for the Faith in Action network supporting left-leaning immigration policies in Colorado and in Congress. [7] [8]

Colorado State Corporation Commission Filings list the principal of Colorado Families First as Tierney Lawrence LLC, a left-leaning law firm in Denver that manages ballot initiative campaigns as well as conducts lobbying and election law compliance services. The firm is led by Martha Tierney, who is the general counsel for the Colorado Democratic Party and sits on the national governing board of left-leaning activist group Common Cause. [9] [10]

Connected Organizations

Organizations listed as endorsers of the Colorado Families First campaign included AARP Colorado, AFSCME, The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Bell Policy Center, Colorado AFL-CIO, the Colorado Education Association, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, the Colorado Working Families Party, CWA Local 7777, NARAL Pro Choice America, ProgressNow Colorado, Unite Here, and SEIU Local 105. [11]

Dissolution

Proposition 118 was enacted by voters during the November 2020 election and Families First Colorado reported to the State of Colorado that it had been dissolved as of December 31, 2020. [12]

References

  1. “Home.” Colorado Families First. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20210120140503/https://voteyeson118.com/ ^
  2. “Colorado Proposition 118 (2020).” Ballotpedia. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Proposition_118,_Paid_Medical_and_Family_Leave_Initiative_(2020) ^
  3. Bland, Scott. “Liberal ‘dark-money’ behemoth funneled more than $400M in 2020.” Politico. November 17, 2021. Accessed November 21, 2021.  https://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/17/dark-money-sixteen-thirty-fund-522781 ^
  4. “Sixteen Thirty Fund IRS Form 990.” Politico. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000017d-2e2b-df97-a9ff-be7fdd190000 ^
  5. “Colorado Proposition 118 (2020).” Ballotpedia. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Proposition_118,_Paid_Medical_and_Family_Leave_Initiative_(2020) ^
  6. “Colorado Proposition 118 (2020).” Ballotpedia. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Proposition_118,_Paid_Medical_and_Family_Leave_Initiative_(2020) ^
  7. “Home.” Colorado Families First. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20210120140503/https://voteyeson118.com/ ^
  8. “Carmen Medrano.” Partnership for Working Families. Accessed November 19, 2021.  https://www.forworkingfamilies.org/leadership/people/carmen-medrano ^
  9. “Colorado Families First.” Open Corp Data. Accessed November 21, 2021.  https://opencorpdata.com/us-co/20201042271 ^
  10. “Martha Tierney.” Tierney Lawrence. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://www.tierneylawrence.com/martha-tierney ^
  11. “Endorsements.” Colorado Families First. Accessed November 19, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20210120125332/https://voteyeson118.com/endorsements ^
  12. “Colorado Families First.” Open Corp Data. Accessed November 21, 2021.  https://opencorpdata.com/us-co/20201042271 ^
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