Published: June 12, 2013
Owners of The Riviera Black Hawk Casino donated $25,000 to a political committee months before the committee supported state Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, as he fights a recall campaign intended to oust him, a company official said.
"We gave a donation in December which was well before any of this became an issue and it was to support the (Democratic) Party," said David Farahi, chief operating officer of Monarch Casino and Resort, which owns the casino.
Morse is one of two Democratic senators waiting to see if enough signatures were collected to put his name on a recall ballot in coming months. Morse and Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, were targeted for recalls by groups opposed to gun legislation that will take effect in July.
The $25,000 donation in December 2012 from Black Hawk Casino was one of the largest donations in the most recent report to a Denver-based political committee called Mainstream Colorado.
Mainstream Colorado donated $30,000 total to Giron and Morse's campaigns to fight the recall efforts in May.
After The Gazette reported that Black Hawk Casino was a major donor to Mainstream Colorado, other media outlets, including the conservative blog Colorado PEAK Politics, picked up the story, focusing on Black Hawk Casino.
On that website a few readers posted comments about never gambling at the Riviera again or hinting a casino boycott could come.
The other large donor to Mainstream Colorado is Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Action Fund, which also gave $25,000.
"We have guests from the entire spectrum of political beliefs, so it's not our job to take political positions," Farahi said. "Our donation had nothing to do with the recall campaign . so any implication of such is false and that's what we're trying to clarify."
Mainstream Colorado, a nonprofit organization established under a provision in the federal tax code, registered with the secretary of state as a campaign committee, reported receiving $115,500 from December 2012 through March 31 and spending $39,705.
Expenditures included thousand-dollar meals at the Denver restaurants Strings and Panzano, but most of the money was for what it called research paid to the Denver-based IRN, Inc.
The political committee A Whole Lot of People for John Morse reported receiving $15,000 on May 6 from Mainstream Colorado, and Pueblo United for Angela received the same amount on the same day.
Farahi said he does not have an itemized report of how the casino's donation was used and has not been in contact with Mainstream Colorado.
Contact Megan Schrader