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Mail that appears to be handwritten is simply a mass-produced campaign flyer for Amendment 71

Posted: 11:57 PM, Oct 31, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-01 18:34:55-04

CENTENNIAL -- In an election with two pages worth of ballot issues, it's tough for any campaign to get personal attention.

Voters in Centennial alerted Denver7 to a hand-delivered flyer that some felt was über personal.

The flyers were in envelopes that appeared to be handwritten.

"It looked like it was an envelope from a neighbor," said Centennial voter Mickki Langston. "I had just opened the door in the morning, and it fell. My immediate thought was, 'Oh, there's a neighbor who actually cares about this amendment."

The envelope contains information from "Raise the Bar," the group in support of Amendment 71. The amendment would make it more difficult to amend the state's constitution by changing the requirements for signature collection and the overall vote.

The outside of the envelope reads: "Im (sic) your neighbor and Amendment 71 is important to me. I hope you'll VOTE YES on Amendment 71!" It appears to be handwritten. Some of the ones delivered in Centennial had "Joey K" actually handwritten at the bottom.

"I don't know Joey K. No, but it makes me feel like I should know Joey K," said Centennial voter Cheryl Eichman. "I feel like they're trying to manipulate my emotions through this."

"That just feels dishonest," said Langston. "What bothers me is the irony of a campaign that is about preventing grassroots change using pretend grassroots tactics."

If Amendment 71 were to pass, petition groups would have to collect at least two percent of their signatures from each of the state's 35 Senate districts, and if an issue qualifies for the ballot, it would require 55 percent approval to pass.

"I think this actually is a grassroots effort. We had over 250 people that volunteered to do it that day," said Amendment 71 volunteer David Thomson. "I think I did about 200. I delivered them, and if they weren't there, I actually wrote notes on them. I do not think that is deceptive. I think it is a creative way to get people's attention."

Thomson took exception with the claim that Amendment 71 is anti-grassroots. He said the idea for this ballot issue stemmed from a grassroots movement.

"'Building a Better Colorado' was a grassroots effort that went around the state for eight months, 40 meetings, 10,000 people; those are the local people that brought that issue to us, and we are now pushing that forward for the people," said Thomson.

Denver7 checked the campaign finance reports for both sides of Amendment 71.

"Raise the Bar" has received $5.1 million in contributions, about $160,000 from individuals. Among those individual contributions, 114 people donated $250 or less. The rest of the money is from corporations and businesses. More than $3 million has come from oil and gas companies.

The "No on 71" group only has $18,000 in contributions.

Other groups are also contributing to the efforts to defeat Amendment 71 and have received $540,000 from the National Education Association (teacher's union) and the Service Employees International Union (public service workers).

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