We Demand Accountability.
With early voting, vote-by-mail, 24hr ballot drop-off locations, and same day voter registration, Colorado has led the nation in strengthening our democracy by making it easy to vote. In 2018, Denver became a national leader for election reform when voters supported 2E by over 70% of the vote, demanding more transparency and accountability in our elections and giving every candidate, no matter the size of their bank account, a fighting chance to run for office.  Campaign finance laws exist to prevent bad actors from D.C. to Denver from harming our democracy. Our government is better because of them.

The documents below show how the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Emerge Colorado, and their endorsed candidates committed the biggest campaign crimes in Colorado history and broke public trust. Worse, the candidates took taxpayer funded Fair Elections Fund (FEF) money – which they are ineligible to receive.

These funds must be returned and these groups and candidates held accountable. Click here to join other Denverites by filing a complaint.
This is how they broke the law
Denver was supposed to be a model for the nation of free and fair elections and people powered campaigns when voters approved 2E in 2018. The Democratic Socialists of America, Emerge Colorado and the candidates they illegally worked with have embarrassed us.

This self-described slate that violated campaign finance laws:
- Mayoral Candidate: Lisa Calderon
- At-Large Candidate: Sarah Parady
- District 2 Candidate: Tiffany Caudill
- District 4 Candidate: Tony Pigford
- District 8 Candidate: Shontel Lewis
- District 9 Candidate: Candi C’Debaca
- District 10 Candidate: Shannon Hoffman

They did this under the guise of an organization called ‘New Day Denver’ to provide unreported campaign benefits to each of these candidates.
30 minute audio conversation between representatives from the organizations and several of the candidates occurring in September 2022
A copy of the ‘New Day Manual’ that sets forth specific plans, strategies, and contact information for the people involved.
The Baseline Agency: A cover letter and proposal to provide work to “the Denver Slate”
Field Director / Slate Campaign Manager, Policy Director, and Comms Director job descriptions
Sage Cooperative company overview
Screenshots for LinkedIn screenshots and Denver Elections Division Searchlight Database for individuals working with New Day Denve
This is how they broke the law
How They Broke the Law
Significant Resources to Candidates that go Unreported

Resources expended by Emerge or DSA to assist these candidates, whether directly by paying for staff or indirectly by sending out messages after coordinating with candidates, violated multiple Denver campaign finance laws. Contributions “in-kind” in Denver include “any other thing of value, but not including money, made to or for any candidate or committee for the purpose of influencing an election” (see Denver Ordinance 15-32). Denver also regulates communications “made in cooperation or consultation with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, or issue committee or agents of the candidate committee, including a general or particular understanding with, or pursuant to any non-public communication with, the candidate, committee, or agents” (see Denver Ordinance 15-32).

Because both “in-kind” and “controlled or coordinated” communications count as contributions to the candidates, the value received is far beyond the contribution limits any candidate could receive ($500 for Fair Election Fund mayoral candidates; $350 for Fair Election Fund councilmember-at-large candidates; $200 for Fair Election Fund district council candidates) (see Denver Ordinance 15-54).

Furthermore, because everyone of the candidates included is a Fair Election Fund candidate, none would be eligible to receive any contribution of any kind, whether monetary or in-kind or controlled/coordinated, from any organization including Emerge or DSA or New Day Denver (see Denver Ordinance 15-54). Such a violation would mean that they were not eligible for Fair Election Fund payments.

- The documents included here demonstrate that is exactly what they planned to do though. In the recording, Lisa Calderon, who is both a candidate for mayor and the Executive Director of Emerge, said, “also if we were going to have a citywide strategy of a network it would require me working with all of you loosely, unofficially” (1:11 of the recording).

- Lisa Calderon later told the candidates present that, “this was no accident that y’all were chosen” (10:50 of the recording), “the idea is that we build those networks across the city with everybody’s campaigns” (11:35 of the recording), and “where we would have an advantage of a citywide network” (15:45 of the recording).

- Candi CdeBaca stated, “the slate needs to plan to pass off to an IE on how we discredit their entire narrative” to which someone replied “I think we’re there.”

- Someone later told the gathering, “we need to set some staff … community agreements before Jeff gets here” (23:25 of the recording)

- The group was told that “someone who works for Emerge who has read the poll in its entirety who will say things” (23:45 of the recording) before the candidates present were told “we’ll release a public version” (24:00 of the recording) of the poll.

- Eventually, the group took a picture together to which one person joked that they would release it, “the day after election day” (26:30 of the recording).

- The end of the recording is particularly important as several candidates identify themselves as being present. Even more important, several staff identify themselves and their roles helping the candidates. Toward the end of the recorded meeting, Hayley Banyai-Becker asked “who can be our main note-taker, and it probably shouldn’t be a candidate” (27:45 of the recording).

- Before beginning introductions. Hayley Banyai-Becker stated, “Zack, Kristen and I are all going to be facilitating a different section, I’ll facilitate overall” (28:35 of the recording).

- Later Hayley Benyai-Becker introduced herself directly as “Hayley … and I’m the field director for the slate” (29:00 of the recording).

- Subsequently, Kristen Seidel introduced herself as working for “Tiffany, but I’m also the political director at Emerge Colorado” (29:45 of the recording).

- Zack Burley identified himself as “the policy director for the slate and the other hat I wear is Denver DSA electoral chair” (30:18 of the recording”).

These staff are particularly important when additional documents are reviewed. The New Day Denver manual lists the following titles and individuals (among others, including each of the candidates except Calderon):

- Field Director: Hayley Banyai-Becker
- Policy Director: Zack Burley
- Comms Director: Ru Johnson
- Tiffany Campaign Partner: Kristen Seidel

That same document sets out meeting schedules, events, social media plans and strategies. Furthermore, it linked to job descriptions (also provided here) for Field Director/Slate Campaign Manager, Policy Director, and Comms Director. The documents plan for these positions to provide those services to all the candidates campaigns. Furthermore, the manual states that pay would be $6,500/month for full-time slate directors, $3,500/month for part-time slate directors, and $30/hr for campaign partners. These were not individuals volunteering their time.

In Denver’s Searchlight database, there are no entries for payments to these individuals, or any payments at all, reported from “New Day Denver,” “Colorado Emerge,” or “Denver DSA.” There are several sporadic payments made to Banyai-Becker, Burley, Johnson, and Seidel from various slate campaigns in various amounts, but none in the amounts included in the planning manual. Additionally, none of these people were paid by every candidate involved in the slate yet worked for the entire slate.

At the same time, Hayley Banyai-Becker is listed on LinkedIn as the full-time “Field Organizer” for “Democratic Socialists of America” in Denver from August 2022, just before the recorded meeting, to present. Similarly, Zack Burley simply lists himself on LinkedIn as a self-employed “Policy Consultant.” Lisa Calderon, Kristen Seidel and Sol Sandoval all worked for Emerge Colorado during the same time period. These individuals were being paid by outside organizations to perform illegal work on candidate campaigns.

The manual goes on to discuss multiple different vendors or individuals to provide services to the slate. As a few examples, it states that “we’ll be hiring Rue Johnson for comms, but we need someone in the design niche” that Hayley was “working on matching funds, immediate priority” and “hiring Ru for Comms” and noted that Sage Cooperative could take tasks “off your plate” for “Zack: endorsement assistance; messaging apparatus for policy,” “Hayley: logistical coordination; admin; field stuff/planning; overall slate strategies/plan; candidate trainings,” and “Facilitation of decision making process.” It continued that “Hayley is creating the structure – calms the candidates. Might keep ding the structural vision, might have Ananiya as field director to do field plans.”

The planning manual also set out the specific plan to hire campaign managers for each individual campaign.

Taken together, it is evident that these organizations and candidates planned an entire group dedicated and paid to help the candidate campaigns with undisclosed, outside money. While the potential violations are too numerous to review here, it is evident that each of these organizations and candidates broke multiple Denver campaign finance laws and should be held accountable for doing so.
File a Complaint
Written complaints to the Denver Clerk and Recorder can be filed here.

Demand that these candidates return their taxpayer funded Fair Elections Fund money.

These candidates are ineligible to receive taxpayer funded FEF of any kind because they received illegal support from Emerge Colorado and Democratic Socialists of America (see Denver Ordinance 15-54).

- Mayoral Candidate: Lisa Calderon
- At-Large Candidate: Sarah Parady
- District 2 Candidate: Tiffany Caudill
- District 4 Candidate: Tony Pigford
- District 8 Candidate: Shontel Lewis
- District 9 Candidate: Candi C’Debaca
- District 10 Candidate: Shannon Hoffman