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Clinton’s Aspen-area fundraising tops other presidential hopefuls

The days leading up to and after Hillary Clinton’s dine-and-dash event in Pitkin County on Aug. 4 saw the presidential hopeful raise more than $50,000 for her campaign, public records show.

That amount — collected from July 27 through Aug. 6 — accounts for nearly one-third of the $159,792 the Democratic candidate has raised from Aspen contributors during the 2016 campaign cycle, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Clinton, who appeared at the home of Soledad and Robert Hurst — admission was $2,700 a head — is the top presidential fund-raiser so far in the Aspen area, based on Federal Election Commission data through Jan. 31.

The $159,792 contribution-figure comes from Aspen’s primary ZIP code, 81611. Aspen and surrounding areas have accounted for $295,428 in contributions to the former secretary of state’s war chest, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Republican candidate Ben Carson, once a front-runner and now a likely dropout, was the second-most prolific fund-raiser in Aspen with $37,100 in donations from 81611 and $97,780 from the surrounding area, data show.

Tantall Hillman is one of Pitkin County’s biggest conservative donors, if not the most generous. The website Politico listed him and his wife, Roberta, as the 88th top political contributors in the United States in 2014, with $820,000 in donations.

More recently, Hillman contributed thousands to the campaigns of Carson and Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. He gave $2,700 — the largest amount an individual can give to a candidate for federal office during the primary period — to Cruz on Dec. 31.

Hillman said he’s hedging his donations because of the size of the GOP’s slate of candidates. With last week’s exits of Gov. Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, the field is now down to six candidates: Jeb Bush, Carson, Cruz, Gov. John Kasich, Rubio and Donald Trump.

“I think that it’s pretty ridiculous to have this many candidates,” Hillman said. “But I just hope we get somebody better than this president.”

Even though Carson’s campaign is limping along, Hillman said he is still his top choice.

But, “I’d be happy with Cruz,” he said. Trump, however, won’t be getting Hillman’s money.

“No way,” he said. “I think he’s got a terrible personality for a president.”

Trump, whose mistress Marla Maples had a public shouting match with his then-wife, Ivana, at Bonnie’s restaurant on Aspen Mountain during the holiday week in 1989, hasn’t gotten much love from local donors. He has fetched just $1,129 for his campaign from Aspen-area contributors, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Even so, he was the most popular candidate in a straw poll taken by the Pitkin County Republicans at their debate party in December, when he scored 30 percent of the tally.

The other anti-establishment candidate, Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose campaign against Clinton has railed against campaign spending and Super PACs, is fifth in Aspen-area contributions with $43,550, data show. Sanders enjoyed a clear victory over Clinton in last week’s New Hampshire primary, one week after losing to her by a nose in the Iowa caucuses.

“If Obama can’t, who in the heck thinks Bernie Sanders is going to get anything done?” asked Aspen resident Ruth Brown, who gave $250 to the Clinton campaign in October. “The reason he’s gaining momentum is because those who are supporting him aren’t looking at the long term.”

Brown said Clinton “is by far the most qualified applicant out there among both the Republicans and Democrats. I think she’s a woman who knows how to get things done.”

Candidates in both parties will square off again Saturday with the Nevada Democratic caucuses and the South Carolina Republican primary.

Super Tuesday, on March 1, includes the caucuses in Colorado. Republicans, however, won’t conduct an official straw poll like the Democrats will do. Last August, Colorado GOP leaders decided to ditch the straw polls so their delegates won’t be tied to caucus winners at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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