Mailing on family ties sparks SD 35 feud

By Chris Bragg

There was every reason to be excited about a scheduled debate between Rep. Alice Borodkin, D-Denver, and former Denver City Council President Joyce Foster on Tuesday, July 21. Their primary race to replace Ken Gordon in Senate District 35 has been one of the most contentious in the state.

Unfortunately, the only Borodkin sighting Tuesday night was of a life-size paper cutout of the eight-year HD 9 incumbent. Borodkin was a no-show, and a supporter, Diane Hansen, stood in for her in the debate.

“I’m not running against her,” Foster said at one point, as she pointed to Hansen. Foster then pointed to the cutout. “I’m running against her.”

Borodkin had a pretty good excuse for her absence. She was attending the National Conference of State Legislatures in New Orleans, where she sits on two committees.

Still, it was disappointing not seeing the two face off, primarily because they’ve been going at it over a campaign mailing sent by Borodkin two weeks ago. The mailing contained a series of letters between Foster and Borodkin — as well as a recent e-mail from Cathy Donohue, a former Denver City Council member who later served in former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb’s administration.

The letters concerned Foster’s son, David, who lobbies at the Capitol. In her letter, Donahue said that’s a concern because although David Foster represented clients in matters involving zoning issues that came before the Denver City Council, Joyce Foster failed to recuse herself when she was on the Council.

“I was shocked each time this happened,” Donohue wrote.

Therefore, Borodkin says, she wants an answer from Foster as to whether she will recuse herself when one of her son’s clients is involved in a legislative matter, should Foster be elected. With David Foster’s large list of clients as a lobbyist and lawyer, that could involve half the votes that come up, Borodkin said.

“I’m very upset about it, and I’ve never gotten an answer,” Borodkin said in a phone interview, adding that there was no question Foster had strong ties to the homebuilding industry.

Foster initially called Borodkin’s attack “desperate.”

Foster almost knocked Borodkin altogether off the primary ballot at this spring’s Denver County Assembly. Borodkin eventually squeaked by with the minimum 30 percent of the vote.

But Borodkin says the assembly wasn’t representative of the voting public.

“That’s hilarious. What poll is she looking at?” said Borodkin.

Foster now says she regrets that “desperate” comment. But as for the merits of Borodkin’s claims, Foster says, “I think she should have done some fact-checking.”

“I’ve been on the record for 10 years in the Denver City Council, and every vote I’ve taken has been on the record. Three issues came up with David, and I recused myself,” said Foster, who served on the Council from 1993 to 2003. She argued that her son lobbied on only 1 percent of all bills that came through the Legislature last year.

Foster, meanwhile, has questioned Borodkin’s acceptance of money from Political Action Committees. Campaign finance records show such groups as COAA PAC (Construction Owners Association of America), Amgen PAC (pharmaceutical manufacturing) and the RX Pharmacies Independent Providers PAC gave donations to Borodkin’s campaign.

It appears that Borodkin blew almost all her campaign funds on the negative mailing concerning Foster. Borodkin spent most of $17,000 on mailings in early July while taking in no contributions, depleting her funds to just $1,170.44.

Borodkin says, however, that she’s received $6,000 in donations since then and will be sending out more mailings, noting that these will be positive in nature. As for Foster, she currently has over $22,000 in cash.