Gorsuch/Anschutz Exposé Puts Bennet on Hot Seat

Phil Anschutz.

The New York Times put out a story late yesterday that’s driving a lot of discussion in Colorado–detailing very close ties between U.S Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz that raise a number of previously unasked questions:

Mr. Anschutz’s influence is especially felt in his home state of Colorado, where years ago Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, a Denver native, the son of a well-known Colorado Republican and now President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, was drawn into his orbit.

As a lawyer at a Washington law firm in the early 2000s, Judge Gorsuch represented Mr. Anschutz, his companies and lower-ranking business executives as an outside counsel. In 2006, Mr. Anschutz successfully lobbied Colorado’s lone Republican senator and the Bush administration to nominate Judge Gorsuch to the federal appeals court. And since joining the court, Judge Gorsuch has been a semiregular speaker at the mogul’s annual dove-hunting retreats for the wealthy and politically prominent at his 60-square-mile Eagles Nest Ranch.

“They say a country’s prosperity depends on three things: sound money, private property and the rule of law,” Judge Gorsuch said at the 2010 retreat, according to his speaker notes from that year. “This crowd hardly needs to hear from me about the first two of the problems we face on those scores.”

As an outside counsel for Anschutz’s business empire, Gorsuch reportedly worked on a number of high-profile cases. But the big news in this story, something we and we’re pretty sure most Coloradans were not aware of, was Anschutz’s apparent heavy lobbying for Gorsuch’s appointment as a federal judge in 2006. Since his appointment, Gorsuch has apparently recused himself from some–but not all–cases that came before his court with a relationship to Phil Anschutz.

A surprising omission from this New York Times story is the fact that Gorsuch’s service as counsel to Anschutz overlaps with Sen. Michael Bennet’s tenure as Managing Director of the Anschutz Investment Company. Bennet’s employment by Anschutz is of course a matter of record, but obviously disclosure of these ties between Neil Gorsuch and Phil Anschutz invite new questions about how that association might affect Bennet’s vote to confirm Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sen. Bennet has been very reserved about Gorsuch’s nomination, and is publicly undecided on whether to support him.

With Democrats generally hardening in opposition to Gorsuch as confirmation hearings prepare to begin, this could be a big moment for Sen. Bennet to refute some of the persistent criticism he gets on his left. A vote against Gorsuch–and especially against cloture to proceed to the simple majority confirmation vote itself–is an opportunity for Bennet to prove he’s his own man, at a moment it would really count.

Whether he likes it or not, Bennet is now front-and-center in the Gorsuch confirmation battle. Stay tuned.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    This supreme court seat was stolen from President Obama.

    No Democrat should even engage in conversation with Republicans on this matter until a vote is held on Garland. Gorsuch is an extremist like his mother. He should not get the chance to be a supreme court justice until the Republican theft of Obamas' nomination is overturned.

    I can live with the 4/4 court we have. If another vacancy arrives before we can change this dynamic….so be it. We fight that fight when we face it….

  2. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    Not seeing a whole lot here. Am reminded that Trump could have picked a far worse nominee, like Pryor or the guy whose last name begins with an 'H'. And also not seeing any reason for Bennet to "go public" at this time, although Bennet's "#1 fan" here at Pols, Zappatero, will soon demand it I suspect.

    Sorry, Duke, but Garland is not coming back. I think Garland deserved a hearing, but that's how politics goes.

  3. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Colorado Pols is so blinded by hatred of Gorsuch they're throwing their own Senator under the bus! I love this!!

  4. ZappateroZappatero says:

    he could have been a moderate Republican senator and happily in office for 100 years.  That would have forced him to address the icky stuff: gays, abortion, Islam, money, etc…..

    instead, he took the tougher road, surely to impress someone, and thought he could triangulate his way to retirement without having to account for a raucus Dem base that would make him earn his salary every day. 

    oh, well………..

  5. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Under the Bannon/Putin regime, the best that sane, reality-based people can hope for is to delay, stall, bitch, moan, complain, protest, and generally be a pain in the ass. All of which are well within my own skill set.

    That said, we can triangulate, too….Anschutz is anti-LGBT, and surely pure poison on social issues, but he too is reality-based, a smart bajillionaire as opposed to a dumb as a box of rocks conman like Trump, and Anschutz has seen which way the energy wind is blowing, and  has built him some mighty wind farms to catch it! In California, Wyoming, transmission facilities across Nebraska, and NW Colorado (right past coal-lovin' Craig) .

    So if the smart bajillionaire will teach the dumb-as-rocks bajillionaire something about reality based energy production, perhaps we can still save the planet?

    So if we blast el smarto Anschutz for his antedeluvian social views, and sneer at Bennet for voting for Gorsuch to please his old boss, then maybe Trumpito will figure that it might be Tremendous to ally with the guy making all the big bucks from wind production? Because if libruls hate him, then he must be a helluva fine guy, right?


    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      I think you lost me on the third turn..

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        What I'm suggesting is that we think more strategically around the whole Anschutz/ Gorsuch/ Trump tangle.

        Given: We're not going to prevent Gorsuch's nomination, at least not forever,. I agree with Duke that we need to make it as long drawn out and painful as possible; hence the bitch, moan, complain, pain in the ass tactics that we all know and love, and expect by now from our Democratic Members of Congress. They can and should go through the motions, and try to make some good bargains, but in the end, Gorsuch will probably sit on SCOTUS unless Trump is impeached first. Gorsuch will try to set back LGBT and reproductive rights, environmental law, worker's rights, who knows what else, but we're not going to be able to do much except delay his nomination, possibly until SCOTUS' next session begins in October.

        Given: Bennet will try to act "bipartisan" but will in the end, vote his wallet. He'll vote to confirm Gorsuch, probably, both because it's the "bipartisan " thing to do, and possibly because of old loyalties to the Anschutz brand.

        I'm suggesting that Anschutz could actually be a positive influence on Trump, because of Anschutz'  reality-based investments in renewable energy. Anschutz is the real deal; a smart billionaire with a vision for the future, hence his support of all of that wind energy in three states. His Wyoming wind farm will be the largest in the nation. And that is where the future money is, where genuine capitalists should invest.

        Trump, on the other hand, is an incompetent businessman and a swindler. He's a great conman, but not much of a businessman. He doesn't pay his contractors. He contributes little or nothing to charities. He doesn't pay taxes, except maybe once in 2005 – as far as we know. He owes untold millions to Deutsche and Chinese banks and Russian lenders. He is the most financially compromised President since Warren Harding. Trump wants to be Anschutz. Anschutz does not and did not support Trump.

        So if we as teh libz attack Gorsuch and Bennet as being too close to Anschutz, that makes Anschutz more simpatico with Trump. And maybe Trump will start to see an energy future that does not just involve making empty promises to coal mining towns that he is going to bring all of their jobs back by "rolling back regulations".

        At bottom, I think that Trump is a hollow man, with not many deeply founded beliefs. He could give a shit about LGBT rights one way or another. His own personal history on abortion is ambiguous, at least. He does follow the money, though, and Anschutz makes the money.

        I'm just saying that we as progressives should be watching, playing it by ear, and trying to triangulate and push 45's administration to do the sensible capitalist thing and invest in renewables like Phil Anschutz.

        And for Bennet, although I personally still resent his doubletalk and past history on screwing up my retirement funds, if he votes for Gorsuch as a tribute to Anschutz, I'm OK with that.

    • Powerful PearPowerful Pear says:


      Your skill set as noted is impressive and accurate. You are wasting your time & skills here on the Pols. You need to be an MSNBC contributor. You could help Rachel Madcow come up with "BREAKING NEWS", like Trump paid a 25% tax rate, more than Bernie, Obama and the Clinton's. 

      I know you are doing the best you can, but you really will have to up your game or the 11 other people on this site may become demoralized.

  6. Diogenesdemar says:


    Chapter 1 – The Hardscrabble Years:

    "It was the very worst of times; hand to mouth, a near palpable sense of daily dread and heavy uncertainty – wondering, nay hoping (futilely?), and wondering more – when, and from whom (dear God?), that day's next million dollars might finally arrive? A frayed lifeline to yet another next desperate day of Sisyphean toil and worry and meager sustenance."

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Nice. I could write the "Unsung Hero – striving to uplift the ignorant Teachers and Ungrateful Students of DPS" chapter. (Bennet was my old boss and screwed up my retirement funds with his fancy financial finagling).

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