Phony endorsement of Republican gets Hickenlooper's dander up


A mailer that Democrats see as falsely implying that Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper supports the re-election bid of Republican state Sen. Tim Neville of Littleton has the administration seeing red.

The mailer, which showed up in mailboxes in Senate District 16 this week, comes from the independent expenditure committee Business Opportunity Fund.

It says in large type: “Neville & Hickenlooper: Working together for Colorado’s economy,” along with a statement below the governor’s picture that implies the governor made complimentary remarks about Neville.

The statement in the mailer lacks quotation marks, but a spokesperson for the governor told Colorado Politics that Hickenlooper never made the statement listed on the mailer.

Hickenlooper has not endorsed Neville, and in fact has made an endorsement of Neville’s opponent, Democrat Tammy Story of Conifer, that her campaign has not yet announced, according to several sources.

“It certainly says a lot when a far-right Republican senator feels he needs fabricated help from an outgoing Democratic governor to get reelected,” said Democratic Sen. Steve Fenberg of Boulder. Fenberg chairs Coloradans for Fairness, an independent expenditure committee working to elect Democrats to the state Senate.

The mailer’s flip side also is inaccurate with regard to one of the bills it lists. Hickenlooper never signed House Bill 18-1086 into law, despite the mailer’s claim that the governor signed it. Hickenlooper sent HB 1086 to Secretary of State Wayne Williams to become law without his signature, noting in a letter to the General Assembly a number of concerns with the bill, which he called flawed.

When reached for comment, Andrew Dunkley, an account manager with Pac/West Communications, a firm that produces political mailers, told Colorado Politics that “the piece in question does not include any quotations or statement from Governor Hickenlooper and was intended to reflect that Governor Hickenlooper and Senator Neville have worked together to pass bills that both deemed important to the state.”

Pac/West has made more than $50 million in the past decade producing political advertising on behalf of Colorado campaigns. That includes $7 million in September alone for advertising on behalf of the oil-and-gas-industry-backed committee Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy, which is fighting Proposition 112.

The Business Opportunity Fund, which commissioned the Neville mailer, draws much of its funding from donors who sit on the board of directors for Colorado Concern, a pro-business coalition of executives that includes former University of Denver Chancellor Dan Ritchie, Larry Mizel of MDC Holdings, Blair Richardson of Bow River Capital Partners and Barry Hirschfeld of AB Hirschfeld.

Colorado Concern is run by former state Sen. Mike Kopp. Calls to Kopp and to Colorado Concern have not been returned.

According to the Secretary of State’s TRACER campaign finance system, the fund has so far raised $25,000 in this election cycle and spent more than $236,000.

The largest donation made so far this year to the Business Opportunity Fund is $15,000 from the Colorado Economic Leadership Fund, which draws its money from the oil and gas industry and has also sent out mailers in support of Republican candidates for the state senate.

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