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DPS school board race fundraising: Who's getting big bucks from Phil Anschutz?

Like much of the rhetoric surrounding next month's Denver Public Schools school board election, the nine candidates are roughly split when it comes to who's funding their campaigns. The four so-called reform candidates have received big checks from Phil Anschutz, Daniel Ritchie and DaVita CEO Kent Thiry and his wife. Former lieutenant governor Barbara O'Brien leads the pack, having raised $173,324.

The non-reformers have gotten a mix of monetary and non-monetary support from the teachers' union.

As we explained in our recent cover story, "Drawing the Line," nine candidates are running for four open seats on the seven-member board.

Phil Anschutz, right, with Jack Vickers at the recent dedication of a new Boys & Girls Club in Denver.
Phil Anschutz, right, with Jack Vickers at the recent dedication of a new Boys & Girls Club in Denver.
Free Lunch Photography

Four of them -- O'Brien, Rosemary Rodriguez, Mike Johnson and Landri Taylor -- agree that the district is headed in the right direction. Four others -- Michael Kiley, Rosario C. de Baca, Meg Schomp and Roger Kilgore -- think the district is not. The ninth candidate, Joan Poston, who is running at-large against O'Brien and Kiley, is more of a wild card.

If voters fill at least three of the four open seats with candidates who disagree with DPS's current brand of reform -- which includes strategies such as closing and replacing failing schools, encouraging charter and innovation schools, and tying teacher evaluations to student test scores -- the 88,000-student district could undergo a big shift.

Here's a look inside each candidate's recently filed campaign finance report.

AT-LARGE

Michael Kiley

Total monetary contributions: $32,460

Total non-monetary contributions: $59,046

Notable donors: Denver Classroom Teachers Association Fund: $5,000 monetary, $41,549 non-monetary; Public Education Committee, a small-donor committee connected to the Colorado Education Association: $21,000 non-monetary

Barbara O'Brien

Total monetary contributions: $173,324

Total non-monetary contributions: $3,467

Notable donors: Denise O'Leary, wife of DaVita CEO Kent Thiry: $10,000

Samuel Gary, founder of Samuel Gary Jr. & Associates: $10,000

Bruce Benson, president of the University of Colorado: $10,000

Phil Anschutz, billionaire: $5,000

Daniel Ritchie, former chancellor of the University of Denver: $5,000

Dave Younggren of Gary Community Investment and the Piton Foundation: $5,000

Patrick Hamill, founder of Oakwood Homes, $3,000

John Freyer, president of the Land Title Guarantee Company: $3,000

Scott Reiman, founder of Hexagon Investments: $3,000

Joan Poston

Total monetary contributions: none

Total non-monetary contributions: none

Continue for more on candidates' fundraising totals thus far.

DISTRICT 2

Rosario C. de Baca

Total monetary contributions: $18,165

Total non-monetary contributions: $18,604

Notable donors: DCTA Fund: $14,521 monetary, $9,521 non-monetary; Public Education Committee: $6,835 non-monetary

Rosemary Rodriguez

Total monetary contributions: $89,210

Total non-monetary contributions: none

Notable donors: Denise O'Leary: $3,000

Samuel Gary: $3,000

Daniel Ritchie: $3,000

Patrick Hamill: 3,000

Phil Anschutz: $3,000

Bruce Benson: $3,000

Mary Benson: $3,000

John Freyer: $3,000

Scott Reiman: $3,000

Stand for Children, pro-reform group: $1,800

Note: Rodriguez capped the contributions she'd accept at $3,000.

DISTRICT 3

Mike Johnson

Total monetary contributions: $146,135

Total non-monetary contributions: $6,567

Notable donors: Denise O'Leary: $10,000

Bruce Benson: $10,000

Samuel Gary: $10,000

Phil Anschutz: $5,000

Daniel Ritchie: $5,000

Charles Ledley of Highfields Capital: $4,000

Patrick Hamill: $3,000

Kent Thiry: $3,000

John Freyer: $3,000

Greg Penner, founder of Madrone Capital Partners: $3,000

Arthur Rock, investor: $3,000

Meg Schomp

Total monetary contributions: $31,949

Total non-monetary contributions: $24,592

Notable donors: DCTA Fund: $15,000 monetary, $10,500 non-monetary; Public Education Committee: $9,450 non-monetary

DISTRICT 4

Roger Kilgore

Total monetary contributions: $33,269

Total non-monetary contributions: $20,327

Notable donors: DCTA Fund: $11,251 monetary, $6,035 non-monetary; Public Education Committee: $4,725 non-monetary

Landri Taylor

Total monetary contributions: $72,105

Total non-monetary contributions: none

Notable donors: Denise O'Leary: $10,000

Bruce Benson: $10,000

Samuel Gary: $5,000

Daniel Ritchie: $5,000

John MacGregor Fox: $4,000

Scott Reiman: $3,000

Patrick Hamill: $3,000

Phil Anschutz: $3,000

John Freyer: $3,000

For in-depth interviews with all nine candidates, check out "Drawing the Line."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com


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