During his first few years in Congress representing the sprawling 3rd Congressional District on Colorado’s Western Slope, Republican Scott McInnis was a strong voice for the state’s ski industry, advocating for the interests of the nation’s most popular destination resorts in Summit and Eagle County.
He even won the Chairman’s Award for Leadership in the ski industry, given by Colorado Ski Country USA – a statewide ski-area lobbying group based in Denver.
When redistricting put Eagle and Summit counties – home to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin – into the 2nd Congressional District under future Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, McInnis’s connections to ski country didn’t come to an end.
McInnis is listed on the board of strategic advisers for KSL Capital Partners, formed in 2005 by former Vail executives Michael Shannon and Eric Resnick. But the former congressman and current gubernatorial candidate is refusing to release tax returns indicating how much the KSL job pays.
Shannon worked for former Vail owner George Gillett, who was forced to sell the company in a bankruptcy settlement in the early 1990s, and then went on to found KSL Recreation Corporation in 1992. With Resnick as CFO, that company acquired some of the top hotel and golf destinations in the world, including the Doral in Miami. KSL Recreation sold for $2.4 billion in 2004.
Gillett, Shannon and Resnick all maintain connections and properties in Vail, where rumors have swirled for years that one or more of them might be interested in reacquiring the publicly held ski, real estate and recreation conglomerate.
McInnis, meanwhile, is a native of Glenwood Springs in neighboring Garfield County, which he represented his entire 12 years in Congress. Garfield County is home to some of the state’s most intensive oil and gas drilling and also includes many of the bedroom communities for the Pitkin County ski resorts belonging to the Aspen Skiing Company.
According to the Denver Post, McInnis during his congressional years listed investments in a number of companies with strong financial ties to the mountain resort and real estate industries, including Alpine Bank and FirstBank. He also listed revenues from investment groups with stakes in oil and gas, real estate and water.
And he had a direct interest in Natural Gas Investors LLC, the Post reported. That company was formed by Bill Vollbracht, chairman of the board of Land Title Guarantee Co., which does significant business in mountain real estate markets and was listed by The Center for Responsive Politics as the fifth-largest contributor to McInnis throughout his congressional career.
Other past mountain money connections, according to the Post, include a $150,000 fellowship McInnis received from The Hasan Family Foundation, founded by Malik and Seeme Hasan, who own a home in Beaver Creek and are philanthropically and politically active throughout the state.
The father of Republican state treasurer candidate and former state House candidate Ali Hasan, Malik Hasan is a former Pueblo neurologist turned managed-care mogul. Seeme Hasan is a heavy-hitting GOP fund-raiser who crossed the aisle to contribute to current CD2 U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder), who now represents Eagle County and also has a family home in Vail.
As a private-sector attorney for the Denver-based Hogan & Hartson law firm, McInnis’s bio states: “Scott McInnis’ practice focuses on state and federal regulatory and legislative matters in a wide range of areas, including natural resources, public lands, energy, agriculture, tax, and business matters.”
Recent revenues from oil and gas investments would be particularly telling given McInnis’s frequently stated campaign promise to take a hard look at Gov. Bill Ritter’s environmentally tougher drilling regulations with an eye toward rolling them back and making things easier for the state’s natural gas industry.