Undoubtedly, to some rank-and-file Democrats, the fact that Colorado's Democratic senator was a former top executive to Anschutz is all that needs to be said. After all, Anschutz is not just any old rich guy who happens to be conservative. He is a hard-core far-right-wing activist - one of the most important conservative movement funders who, as just one example, owns and underwrites The Weekly Standard.
However, even if progressive voters can get beyond their distaste for Bennet's tight relationship with Anschutz, they may be put off by the details of Bennet's particular behavior in his job with Anschutz. It sure seems like the stuff of Gordon Gekko. Here's an excerpt of The Cherry Creek News' report:
Regal (Cinema) was born when Anschutz joined three bankrupt movie companies, pulling them together in early 2002. In 2003, a relatively healthy Regal issued an “extraordinary cash dividend” of $5.05 per share to all shareholders, totaling approximately $715 million, including $373 million to Anschutz. To pay that dividend, the company took on over a half billion dollars in debt. The company went from healthy to imperiled, out of cash, and downgraded by analysts. In 2004, a second “extraordinary cash dividend” was issued, this time amounting to $710 million. The company went into an additional $930 million in debt to cover the dividend. Anschutz would get an additional $368 million from that transaction...
A Moody’s VP said, “It’s pretty mind-boggling to me that this company, recently out of bankruptcy, will pay out $1.6 billion.” The Louisiana teachers pension fund went farther. “…(T)he real explanation for draining the Company of its cash is that the Board is looting Regal and its subsidiaries to pay the individual Board members hundreds of millions of dollars in dividends, which have no legitimate business purpose and provide absolutely no benefit to the company.”
Bennet made more than $11.4 million during the years after the Regal Cinema deals. In 2001, Regal Cinemas closed 30% of its theaters, shuttering 128 theaters. With 30-50 full or part-time employees at the average theater, these closures eliminated an estimated 4,000 – 6,400 jobs...In the end, Bennet profited mightily from the same flavors of financial manipulations that destabilized Wall Street and led to the crash of 2008, and the loss of millions of jobs and billions in lost productivity.
Romanoff's campaign, which has sworn off all corporate and PAC money, has pounced on this report with a scathing new television ad tersely titled "Greed." You can watch it here.
Will the new report and the new ad change the course of the campaign? It's hard to say. However, between Romanoff just selling his house to put the proceeds into his campaign, and Bennet suddenly dropping his Rose Garden strategy to aggressively criticize Romanoff, my guess is both campaigns are showing that this is race incredibly tight. Unto itself, that would be a stunning sign of rank-and-file Democrats' anger at Washington, considering how massively Bennet has outspent Romanoff over the last many months.
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