Politics, power and money

BY FREDA MIKLIN
GOVERNMENT REPORTER

The Villager reviewed all 17 campaign donation and expenditure reports covering the period ended October 14 filed with the Greenwood Village City Clerk for the GV city council race on November 2. There were 15 reports from active candidates, one from a former candidate and one from a political committee. Among the active candidates, the most successful fundraisers were both in district one, Victoria Aguilar who raised $17,721 from 46 different donors and Paul Wiesner who raised $12,560 from 45 different donors. The lowest level of donations came to Tom Stahl in district four, whose only contribution, $1,400, was from himself and Libby Barnacle in district three who raised $1,486.

Other candidates’ total contributions through October 14 were: Paul Baumann, $8,500, Dave Bullock, $3,200, Bob Doyle, $5,740, Judy Hilton, $4,850, Anne Ingebretsen, $1,650, Donna Johnston, $3,381, Kendall Kappler, $8,033, Dave Kerber, $2,350, Jeff Leitner, $3,162, Jeff Reiman, $10,790 and Mathew Schulz, $7,606.

The most talked-about report filed was that of Future Forward Colorado (FFC), an independent expenditure committee, not subject to the $2,000 per person contribution limit that applies to candidate committees. FFC raised $24,375 and spent $11,924 between July 23 and October 8 from 12 donors. Its largest donors were GV State Rep. Meg Froelich and her brother who together gave $21,500. FFC’s 11 other donors were from Greenwood Village or nearby. Froelich is a former GV city council member who represents the city in the state legislature.

The Villager asked Froelich about the organization and her role in it. She told us, “All kinds of people across the metro area were offended when the GV City Council passed Resolution 40-20 last year in six minutes with no citizen input. When the Council told us they wanted to support the police we recommended multiple ways to do that instead of what was in that resolution that was intended to void a key part of a bipartisan, first-in-the-nation police transparency and accountability bill that passed out of the state senate with only one no vote.” 

She continued, “Some of the people running this year met with their Council members after the 40-20 vote but they hit a brick wall. One even testified at the legislature this year for the bill that closed the 40-20 loophole. I talked to hundreds of people over the past year about the need for change in Greenwood Village. Despite the accusation in the mayors’ letter sent to GV residents, I did not recruit these candidates but I sure did call anyone with an interest and encourage their involvement. These candidates came forward organically. I support these candidates but my donation or other donations cannot take on the powers of incumbency and status quo. Council incumbents have all the power of incumbency including communications paid for by the city and appointing people to boards and commissions who then run for Council. So anyone who wants to run against that system is at a severe disadvantage.”

On the independent issue committee Future Forward Colorado, Froelich said, “When Resolution 40-20 passed in 2020 I had a conversation with my dad and he asked me what I was going to do about it. Then he died and left me money so I decided to use that money to fund this committee. At the city council candidate forum (on September 27), the incumbents’ tone was, “You’re outsiders and you’re not doing this the way we told you to do it.” This is a David versus Goliath race. With FFC, I tried to give David a few slingshots.” 

Froelich continued, “I want to be clear that none of the candidates had any prior knowledge or approval of what FFC has been doing or the content of the mail pieces it sent out. FFC is a more accountable organization and more accurate than the mayors’ letter that said that all the challengers to the status quo on GV city council had a “pro-criminal agenda.” This is about accountability but also about accessibility and open government. GV is one of the only cities that refuses to record its meetings on video so residents can see what they actually do. They make jokes about not being attractive but people watch meetings because they are interested in how their government works.”

Reviewing the campaign reports of the 15 active candidates for GV council, the average amount of donations received through October 14 was $5,962. All the incumbents and one of the new candidates (everyone endorsed in the mayors’ letter except Tom Stahl) received a $1,000 donation from Larry Mizel, executive chairman of Denver homebuilder MDC Holdings. Five of the incumbents (everyone except Dave Bullock) received donations from former GV Mayor Ron Rakowsky, and four (all except Libby Barnacle and her mother, Judith Hilton) got $500 donations from the Realtor Candidate PAC. Seven of the non-incumbents received donations of either $250 or $300 from state Rep. Meg
Froelich. 

Of the two incumbent candidates who chose not to run for re-election, Jerry Presley and Tom Dougherty, only Dougherty filed a campaign report for the current period to account for the balance left in his campaign account. After repaying loans he had made to his campaign, Dougherty donated the $900 balance remaining to Heroes with Paws, a charitable organization that helps fund K-9 law enforcement “officers.”

Final campaign reports for the period beginning October 15 are due to the GV City Clerk on December 2.