April 24, 2004


Pete Coors puts his cash where his sentiments lie: Millions of family dollars have gone to support conservative campaigns and candidates (Jim Tankersley And Gwen Florio, April 24, 2004, Rocky Mountain News)

Unlike his two major opponents for Senate - Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar and former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer - Pete Coors doesn't have a voting record. But his extensive political contributions show which candidates and causes are most important to him.

"I'm like everybody else," when donating to politicians, Coors said. "I look at how I think they will represent things that I think are important, how they'll vote on issues that are important to me."

His donations, Coors said, "would certainly give people an indication" of where he stands.

Coors' contributions trend toward the Republican Party and its candidates. He donated $65,300 to GOP committees, including $25,000 to the Colorado Republican Committee on Sept. 11, 2002.

Allard is his favorite candidate - he's given $34,250 to the senator's various campaign committees. He donated to George W. Bush but not to George H. W. Bush.

He's given thousands to Reps. Scott McInnis, Tom Tancredo and Marilyn Musgrave; less to Rep. Bob Beauprez (and former Rep. Schaffer) and none to Rep. Joel Hefley.

Coors and his relatives often back the same people. They also share an affinity for the Free Congress Foundation, whose focus on the culture wars is credited with indirectly helping conservative members of Congress get elected or retain their seats.

But Coors hasn't contributed to some polarizing groups, as other family members have.

Coors' mother, Holly Coors, for example, donated $5,000 to the political arm of Moral Majority, a group of fundamentalist Christians led by the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Pete Coors says his family agrees on a core set of values that drive their donations: less government, lower taxes. But he says it's wrong to lump any family member in with the individual contributions made by other family members.

Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, agrees that it's not fair to judge Pete Coors by his family's donations. "But politics isn't fair," he continued. "It's the least fair part of life . . . Anything you or your family or your associates have touched is fair game. That's the way the system works."

Pete Coors traces his political donations to the dinner table, growing up, when his parents would talk current affairs with their kids.

Both parents were outspoken conservatives: Joseph Coors kick-started the Heritage Foundation with a $250,000 grant. Holly organized several Republican women's groups. Both were longtime friends of Ronald Reagan.

"It just seemed like it was part of your duty as a citizen to vote and to be active in politics," he said. "So it was natural for me to be a Republican and to support Republican candidates."

He's not going to have trouble explaining that he supports conservative causes and candidates.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 24, 2004 9:04 PM

Yeah, but he does have to explain why he dislikes intrusive government, which forced him to have all that money.

Maybe he should have refused to take it, on principle.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 25, 2004 12:19 AM

While explaining his charitable gifts might not be a problem (don't expect similar curiosity about Theresa Heinz' activities in that area), Coors does have a different quandary: the 20-year-old conspiracy theories attempting to tie Coors Brewing to Nazis and the like. Granted, this stuff is largely ridiculous in nature, dating to the time when an intellectual could call a Republican a "crypto-Nazi" without challenge ... but there will be attempts to revive these theories. If Coors answers the charge, he dignifies the conspiracy by bringing more attention to it; if he says nothing, some will think "there might be something there". Not a good path to hew; we will see what happens.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at April 25, 2004 7:06 PM

The Bush's are always tied to the Nazis and now to the Sa'uds--never seems to hurt.

Posted by: oj at April 25, 2004 7:17 PM