JeffCo Commissioners Authorize Sweetheart $340K Political Operative Contract to Hike Taxes

Colorado Inside Out (PBS) Shame of the Week Callout

Government agencies in Colorado may choose to spend public money on political operatives and strategists to campaign for increasing taxes.

Is that legal?

As of now, governments can choose to walk that thin line if the ballot matter isn’t yet technically a “ballot issue”. The Fair Campaign Practices Act and Colorado Revised Statutes contain many strict rules for citizen issue committees and candidates but the rules for government spending taxpayer’s funds on campaigning have loopholes. That flaw in our laws needs to be corrected.

As it stands now, governments can spend public money on campaigns up until the moment it officially becomes a “ballot issue”.

Elected bodies typically don’t vote until July or August to officially put a tax hike on the November ballot. This loophole gives them months in advance to spend taxpayer’s hard earned money campaigning against them.

Doesn’t sound very fair, does it? If anyone thinks this is rare, please check out the other pages on this website. Unfortunately, it’s common for governments to do this.

Refusing to listen to voters

County Commissioners Andy Kerr, Lesley Dahlkemper, and Tracy Kraft-Tharp turned around and advertised to get bids from professional campaign consultants to inform and “educate” voters and taxpayers so they can go to the ballot again in 2024.

Request For Proposal (RFP) for Political Consultant

The RFP generated two responses from political contractors. The $340,000 contract was awarded to The Bighorn Company which states they have never lost a campaign. The owner of the company is the husband of a local congresswoman.

Bighorn’s resume

The contract includes $110,000 for public opinion research.

Voters should be aware of push polling, a common ploy among experienced campaigns. This political tool is attributed to Richard Nixon per Wikipedia and defined as:

“A push poll is an interactive marketing technique, most commonly employed during political campaigning, in which an individual or organization attempts to manipulate or alter prospective voters’ views under the guise of conducting an opinion poll. Large numbers of voters are contacted with little effort made to collect and analyze voters’ response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor mongering, masquerading as an opinion poll.”

Jefferson County voters said no twice since 2019 to tax hikes or eliminating the property tax cap.

Refusing to provide property tax relief, Jefferson County Commissioners declined to lower the mill levy rate at the January 9, 2024 property tax hearing.

That policy choice by Commissioner Andy Kerr, Lesley Dahlkemper, and Tracy Kraft-Tharp will result in over-collection of property taxes which will have to be refunded to property owners later unless the hired political operative can convince taxpayers to forfeit government revenue caps.


CBS / Shaun Boyd – October 2023
Jeffco Commissioners choose to use games when issuing property tax rebates

Complete Colorado – January 2024
Hefty Jefferson County Consulting Gig

Colorado Peak Politics – January 2024
Congresswoman’s husband paid with tax dollars to hike taxes

Colorado Inside Out – January 2024
Shame of the Week (noted by Krista Kafer, CIO Panelist & Denver Post columnist)