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Dem Senators Attack Fellow Democrat’s Former Boss During Gorsuch Hearing

• March 21, 2017 4:45 pm

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A pair of Democratic senators attacked Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's ties to a Colorado billionaire during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, perhaps not realizing that one of their own colleagues has even closer ties to the same billionaire.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.) accused Gorsuch of only getting his position as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit because "a billionaire conservative donor intervened." Leahy was referring to Philip F. Anschutz, a Colorado energy mogul who Gorsuch once represented in private practice.

"Senator, with respect to my nomination … as I recall all of my clients or an awful lot of them came out of the woodwork to say nice, supportive things about me," Gorsuch said. "Phil Anschutz was one, and I think there's probably letters in there from the fellow with the gravel pit, too."

"Which one do you think the White House listened to the most? Mr. Anschutz or a gravel pit owner?" Leahy asked sarcastically.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) later laid out similar charges, asking whether Gorsuch was aware of coordinated PR efforts to back his nomination.

"I know that there is a lot of money being spent in this by, as I understand it, both sides," Gorsuch responded.

"Do you know who is spending the money?" pressed Whitehouse.

"I could speculate based on what I've read and what I've heard, but I don't know individuals who are contributing. I don't know that," Gorsuch responded.

"Do you know if your friend Mr. Anschutz is contributing?" Whitehouse asked. Gorsuch repeated again that he did not know.

The Washington Free Beacon reported last week that Gorsuch has much weaker ties to Anschutz than another key Washington figure. Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado worked directly for Anschutz, serving as managing director of Anschutz Investment Co. for six years.

Anschutz's businesses have also been big donors to Bennet's prior campaigns.

"Through the end of 2009, executives and family members associated with Anschutz Co., Anschutz Group, or Anschutz Investments donated more to Bennet–$39,400–than to any other federal candidate," the Denver Post reported in 2010.

Published under: Neil Gorsuch, Patrick Leahy