BRUCE'S GENEROUS PALS

Not surprisingly, many prep-school grads have adopted, well, a prep-school-grad lifestyle. Gilder, for instance, who went on to Yale (Weil went to Princeton; Benson went to Cornell but dropped out before he graduated), has gained a reputation among moneyed Easterners for being a free-spending historical manuscript collector.

He purchases many of the papers as a team with Lewis Lehrman. The two men have amassed more than 2,000 historical American manuscripts at an estimated cost of $30 million, including letters of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, John Adams and Ulysses S. Grant.

Apart from valuable papers, Gilder has gravitated to the more traditional pursuits on which rich people spend their money: expensive ponies. Gilder races his horses under the name of Pell-Mell Partners, which stables twenty horses in England. One of them, named Cogent, last year won the Hennessy, a top-class steeplechase race in England.

Richard Gooding of Denver also likes the horses. The former PepsiCo bottling magnate, whose estimated worth, according to published reports, is more than $200 million, now runs Paragon Ranch. The company includes horse-breeding operations in Larkspur and in Idaho.

If there's one thing that's more blue-blooded than horse racing, it's yachting. Specifically, America's Cup races. Which is where Terry Kohler comes in again.

Kohler, a longtime sailor, owns Windway Capital Corp., one of whose subsidiaries is North Sails. The company manufactures specialized sails for, among others, America's Cup racing yachts.

The Sporting Life/Boy Scout Connection

Colorado is a sporting paradise, and for any serious candidate, participation in one form or another is mandatory. Preferably, this occurs in the manly arts--hunting, roping, outdoor survival and the like.

For a demonstration of this, one need look no further back than earlier this month, when Rolling Stone Mick Jagger agreed to host a cocktail party at the governor's mansion to promote trade between Colorado and the United Kingdom. Romer, alas, couldn't make the soiree. He had a prior engagement at Wyoming's One-Shot Antelope Hunt.

Fortunately--for comparison's sake--Benson's supporters all seem to be an unusually healthy and active lot.

For example, Richard Gilder is an avid runner. (How avid? He recently gave $17 million to New York's Central Park because, among other reasons, he likes to run there.)

Kellogg also is a health fanatic. Associates have said that he'll pay membership fees at expensive health clubs for any interested employee of his. Kellogg apparently is an aggressive runner (he has run the New York Marathon) and an avid hunter, fisherman, sailor and skier. He also has been active in Outward Bound, a nonprofit school that teaches survival skills and self-confidence.

Weil, who gave $20,000 to Benson, has also been a trustee of Outward Bound. He even has official health credentials: In 1981 he was appointed special advisor to the President's Council on Physical Fitness.

Locally, Tim Travis told Colorado Business in 1988 that he was heavily involved in Ducks Unlimited. He said that he is a runner, spending his lunch hours trotting and working out at Eaton Metal's corporate gym.

Other Benson supporters have shown their allegiance to the great outdoors and physical exertion through the Great Western Stock Show. Although the event is presented as a down-and-dirty, dusty, rough-and-tumble event, its board enjoys the support of some of the biggest wigs in Colorado.

Cortlandt Dietler, CEO of Associated Natural Gas, who so far has donated $50,000 to Benson's campaign, has given time to the stock show's board. So has Peter Coors, a $10,000 Benson supporter. And Richard Gooding not only has served on the show's board, he once paid $17,000 for a prize bull at the yearly event.

Finally, of course, is the crucial Boy Scouts of America connection. (Remember Eagle Scout--and president of the United States--Gerald Ford?) Without any prior political experience, Benson has played up his connection to various do-gooder organizations. One of them is the Boy Scouts, where he served as trustee. Molding Eagle Scouts is an interest he has shared with some of his contributors.

Cable millionaire J.V. Saeman, for instance, has given Benson a total of $15,000 in two installments. He has also been active on the Denver-area council of the Boy Scouts of America, serving as trustee.

So, too, has Ryal Poppa, CEO of StorageTek Corp. The Louisville computer company has donated $25,000 to Benson's campaign so far. And contributor Frederic Hamilton has been a Boy Scout trustee.

It is unclear how any of this will affect Benson's legislative agenda.

The Oil and Gas Connection

This is an obvious one. Bruce Benson earned his fortune in oil, so many of his friends are wealthy oilmen. Still, it's worth looking at. After all, as Clean Water Action's Carmi McLean says, "It's not a case of Benson being beholden to gas and oil exploration. He is gas and oil exploration." First, however, the players.

Cort Dietler, a Denver native, is CEO of Associated Natural Gas. Worth an estimated $100 million, he has contributed $50,000 to Benson. Next up are two Oakland, California, investors who've known and been partners with Benson for nearly twenty years, including in some oil deals. Leo Helzel and Dale Schwarzhoff together have given Benson $30,000.

Third is a $25,000 contribution from Peerless Inc. Although Peerless is an accounting firm, its president is Vernon Taylor. The Taylor family is perhaps more well known for Westhoma Oil. J. Landis Martin, a lawyer by training, lists his business as NL Industries, of Houston, a chemical company. But Martin also is a boardmember of Dresser Industries Inc., a refining and marketing company. Martin has given Benson $15,000 in two contributions.

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