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Big fundraising in DPS campaign

Together for Denver’s Schools, the committee supporting the proposed Denver Public Schools bond issue and operating tax increase, listed contributions of $312,420 in the most recent reporting period, with an additional $121,000 in large gifts reported after that.

An opposition group, No on Denver 3B Bond, has raised $1,590.

District voters will decide a $49 million operating increase, on the ballot as measure 3A, and the $466 million bond issue, measure 3B.

Elsewhere around the metro area, more than $420,000 has been raised in campaigns to pass tax proposals in the Aurora, Cherry Creek and Jeffco school districts.

Together for Denver’s Schools registered with the secretary of state’s office in late July and raised contributions quickly in the July 22 to Oct. 11 reporting period. But the committee also has garnered substantial large gifts since Oct. 11. In the last 30 days before an election, campaign committees are required to file major contribution reports on gifts of $1,000 or more within 24 hours of receipt.

Donations to Together for Denver’s Schools include numerous five-figure contributions, many from real estate and construction companies.

Forest City, developer of Stapleton, gave $50,000, as did Oakwood Homes.

Other large donors included PCL Construction at $5,000, CDL Homes of Westminster with $10,000, Infinity Communities of Greenwood Village at $5,000, the Texas-based Weekley Group of Companies at $10,000, KB Homes with $10,000 and New Town Builders of Denver at $10,000.

Among other large corporate donors were DaVita, the kidney dialysis firm at $25,000, the Benson Mineral Group, which gave $10,000, and the Gary-Williams Co., an energy firm that is the major funder of the Piton Foundation, which in turn is a significant contributor to education initiatives. It gave $25,000. Both of the latter donors have been active in past DPS ballot issues and board campaigns.

Four financial firms RBC Capital Markets, George K. Baum, Piper Jaffrey and Stifel Nicolaus gave contributions of $10,000 each.

The Colorado Education Association gave $7,000 while the Denver Classroom Teachers Association gave $6,000 in non-monetary support.

Arkansas resident Ben Walton of the Walmart family gave $25,000. Other large individual donors were oilman Ron Williams, who gave $10,000, and Bernadette Marquez, who donated $25,000. Marquez and her husband, Tim, have their own foundation and have been major donors to educational causes, including the Denver Scholarship Foundation. Tim Marquez is in the energy business.

Other individual donors of note include DPS board members Jeanne Kaplan at $500, Happy Haynes at $300 and Nate Easley at $200. Superintendent Tom Boasberg donated $1,000. Former board members Elaine Gantz Berman gave $1,000, Les Woodward donated $500 and Theresa Pena gave $100.

The committee spent $245,475 during the reporting period. Major expenses included about $100,000 to ShowPony, a Seattle advertising firm, and about $58,000 for printing. The committee also spent $29,000 with the Denver office of Strategies 360, a campaign consulting firm. The local office is headed by consultant Tyler Chaffee, who managed the 2007 campaign that led to passage of the $550 million Better Denver Bond program, which provides funding for city infrastructure projects.

The No on Denver 3B Bond committee had a handful of individual donors. The largest amount of money, $500, was given by DPS board member Arturo Jimenez, who has been actively campaigning against the bond but supports the operating increase.

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