The casino-funded groups on opposing sides of a proposed racetrack gambling amendment to Colorado's constitution are paying prominent Colorado Springs men who publicly back the respective campaigns.
Patrick Davis, a Colorado Springs-based political consultant who owns a consulting firm, appears in a TV ad that comes out this week saying, "good for schools, no new taxes, that makes sense and I'm voting yes on Amendment 68."
Davis' consulting firm has been paid $10,000 by the campaign committee Coloradans for Better Schools Inc., which is heading up the Yes on 68 campaign.
But the campaign was quick to point out its opponents are paying Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, who is the chairman of the Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos campaign and is frequently quoted.
Cadman's consulting firm, Advantage Marketing and Public Relations, has been paid $40,000 since May by Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos.
"The difference is we're not putting Bill Cadman on advertisements as an independent endorser of our campaign," said Michele Ames, spokeswoman for the No on Amendment 68 campaign.
Cadman said there is a big difference, and he discloses to groups that he is being paid to be chairman of the Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos campaign.
"I am being compensated for my time, but I'm not being paid for my opinion," Cadman said he tells groups that he talks to about the amendment. "My position has been as a citizen and as a legislator on gaming in Colorado ... that this one has a lot of its own unique flaws, basically using the constitution to protect one company and give them a monopoly to create a casino in the Denver metro area."
Monica McCafferty, spokeswoman for the Yes on 68 campaign, said she doesn't see a difference.
"There are various paid consultants on both ends," McCafferty said. "Patrick Davis, he is a consultant for us and privately he's helping us to educate voters, to educate people about Amendment 68."
Amendment 68 would allow a racetrack in Arapahoe County to begin casino-style gambling, but would require the company to pay millions upfront to Colorado schools and would impose a heavy tax on the gambling revenue, which would also be dedicated to K-12 education in Colorado.
The primary backer of the Yes on 68 campaign is Mile High USA Inc., which owns the racetrack in Arapahoe County. The company has given $18.1 million to the campaign, according to the secretary of state.
Opponents of the amendment are being funded primarily by the state's existing casinos, in mountain towns where voters authorized casino-style gambling years ago. Ameristar Casino Resort and Spa in Black Hawk has donated $5.1 million and Isle of Capri Casinos $4 million. The campaign has received about $16.2 million.
Davis didn't return a call Monday about his role in the campaign.
In the TV ad, he is identified as executive director of Colorado Liberty Alliance, which is a somewhat unknown entity that has cropped up in Colorado Springs political races from time to time, including the 2012 race for state House District 19 that pitted two sitting Republicans against each other after they were drawn into the same district.
"I've spent the last 25 years fighting tax increases," Davis says in the ad. "Now we have an opportunity to improve our kids' education without raising taxes."