Club 20, the Western Slope lobbying group formed 56 years ago to give the largely rural area a stronger political voice in Denver, is starting to see dissent from members who feel energy interests are taking over the organization.
According to a story in the Grand Junction Free Press, Gunnison County broke away from the organization for that reason earlier this month, and San Miguel County may follow suit in January.
“The comment I hear too frequently is [Club 20’s] been taken over by the oil and gas industry,” Gunnison County Commissioner Jim Starr told the Free Press.
San Miguel County Commissioner Art Goodtimes chimed in: “The oil and gas group has taken Club 20 over and is dismissive of minority views. We’re splintering, which is always weak and unfortunate.”
Club 20 has made headlines in recent months for positions deemed by some to be too pro-energy, and some political statements by individual members have also been construed as too conservative and in lock step with the oil and gas industry. The recent division underscores the political split on the Western Slope in the wake of the current energy boom.
But Club 20 Executive Director Reeves Brown told the Free Press that every year one or two local governments drop their membership for either financial or ideological reasons. “They don’t stay out for long,” Brown said.