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DU Strategic Issues Program to probe campaign finance

With an estimated $6 billion spent on campaigning in the recently completed 2012 election cycle and with Colorado voters demanding change, the University of Denver Strategic Issues Program (SIP) announced Nov. 9 it will study the role of money in American politics. SIP Director Jim Griesemer announced the program’s focus at a Capitol Hill news conference in Denver.

Griesemer said a nonpartisan SIP panel will spotlight campaign finance and consider the questions of what kind of regulation, if any, is needed. If new regulation is needed, the panel will discuss what form should it take.

The recent election cycle set a record for campaign spending, and Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 65, which calls for the state’s congressional delegation to push for a U.S. Constitutional amendment placing limits on campaign finance.

“That concern among Colorado voters is a reflection of the overwhelming amount of money that has moved into the political arena,” Griesemer told reporters. “The cost of running for a seat in Congress in the U.S. House has increased, from 1990 to 2012, more than 20 times.”

Voters were subjected in the past cycle to more than 1 million advertisements, Griesemer said. But the issue of campaign finance remains a complicated one, he said, involving concerns over fairness, access and freedom of speech.

Provost Gregg Kvistad said the SIP’s work is emblematic of the University’s commitment to serving the public good, providing a thoughtful, nonpartisan approach to a complicated issue.

“This is obviously a big issue for us as a country and as a state,” Kvistad said.

Griesemer will lead a panel of 18 leaders in business, health services, education, public advocacy and government, including former Colorado lawmaker Polly Baca, Girl Scouts of Colorado President and CEO Stephanie Foote, attorney John Moye and Hugh Rice, senior chairman of investment banking for FMI Corp.

The panel will meet every other week through next spring, hearing presentations from speakers including Americans for Campaign Reform President Larry Noble, Oakland University Professor David Dulio, Colorado Secretary of State Campaign Finance Manager Steve Bouey, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and others.

Panelists will work together to draft by consensus a comprehensive overview and suggested reforms, if needed. Findings will be presented in mid-2013.

Presentations are open to the public and news media. A full schedule of presentations is available online at Video recordings of all presentations will be posted as they become available.

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