Group fighting for bilingual ed begins TV blitz
$2.9 million used for ads to oppose Amendment 31
By Burt Hubbard and Kevin Flynn,Rocky Mountain News
October 1, 2002
It took just one day for English Plus to spend the $3 million
donation it got to fight the ballot measure to do away with
The group used the money to buy $2.9 million worth of television
and other electronic media, according to the group's campaign
finance statement filed Monday.
"It will be a broad brush media campaign," said John Britz, partner
in Welchert-Britz, which is running the campaign.
The money is about as much as Gov. Bill Owens has budgeted for
his re-election campaign for media.
The first commercials began airing last weekend, Britz said.
Rita Montero, head of the committee behind Amendment 31, said
she has no financial prospects lined up to fund commercials.
"Clearly, they have the advantage in being able to do extensive
media coverage," Montero said.
Amendment 31 would virtually eliminate bilingual education in
public schools and replace it with English-immersion classes for a
year before transferring students to regular classrooms.
English Plus received $3 million from Fort Collins philanthropist
Patricia Stryker on Sept. 19. The campaign spent the money on a
media buy the next day, according to the campaign filing.
The first commercials emphasize the punitive nature of the
amendment against school officials who issue waivers from the
immersion program to students, Britz said.
They also talk about "mainstreaming unprepared children," he
Britz said the campaign has yet to determine how many different
commercials will be produced.
The campaign also paid more than $11,000 for a poll, but Britz
declined to reveal the results.
So far, California businessman Ron Unz has funded the proponent
committee, English for the Children of Colorado, with more than
$350,000 in loans.
The campaign has until Wednesday to file its statement.
But Montero said she doesn't expect more money from Unz. He is
involved in a similar ballot measure in Massachusetts and a recall
campaign in California, she said.
In other filings, Rollie Heath, the Democratic challenger to Owens,
again outraised the Republican incumbent in dollars but remains
far behind in total campaign fund-raising.
Heath took in $37,749 in cash from 200 contributors in the
two-week period ending Sept. 25. Owens reported receiving
$17,243 in the same period.
But Owens benefited from $39,203 in in-kind contributions -
money spent by others on behalf of his campaign. Nearly all of it,
$38,106 was for literature printing provided by Colorado
Republican Committee Victory 2002, which to date has spent
$167,396 for Owens' campaign.
Heath reported $1,400 in in-kind contributions for the two weeks.
Heath said he will use his cash on hand, $239,576, to put on TV
ads in the last weeks of the campaign. Heath in August ran one
television ad. Owens is spending up to $3 million on advertising.
"Soon we'll be up on TV with ads and our message of creating
jobs and getting Colorado moving again will be reaching an even
wider audience," Heath said.
Owens reports having more than $2.5 million remaining on hand.
In fact, the Owens campaign has donated some of its money to
several Republican county committees and to the party's
legislative campaign funds.
"We are systematically implementing our campaign plan and we're
pleased to have the funds to complete all of the aspects of the
plan," said Sean Tonner, Owens' manager.
Owens has raised more than $5.56 million for the race, while
Heath has raised nearly $1.07 million.