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General News    H2'ed 3/26/17

Backed by $10 million in 'Dark Money,' Gorsuch Claims He's Apolitical

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Philip Anschutz

The dark money backing Gorsuch could be funded by a number of people, or perhaps just one.

"Hypothetically it could be your friend, Mr. Anschutz," Whitehouse said, referring to Philip Anschutz, a secretive right-wing billionaire. When he was in private practice, Gorsuch worked for Anschutz, who began his career in oil and gas and now presides over a vast business empire.

In 2006, Anschutz used his political clout to lobby for Gorsuch to be named a federal judge, which he was. After that, it appears the two Coloradans stayed in contact. Gorsuch has been a semi-regular at Anschutz's annual gatherings, the Times reported. The ties don't stop there. In 2005, Gorsuch partnered with two of Anschutz's top associates to purchase a 40-acre property where they built a vacation home together, which they still jointly own.

While serving on the Court of Appeals, Gorsuch recused himself on (nearly all) cases involving Anschutz's interests, the Times reported. But that may change if Gorsuch gets on the Supreme Court. He's now leaving the door open to ruling on cases involving Anschutz.

The Frozen Trucker

Truck driver Alphonse Maddin came close to freezing to death when his truck malfunctioned on a subzero night in the winter of 2009. Despite the severe weather, his employer, TransAm Trucking, instructed him to either drive his unsafe vehicle or stay put and wait for assistance. But after three hours staying put, during which time he'd dangerously fallen asleep, Maddin opted to protect himself.

He unhooked the (malfunctioning) trailer from the (operational) truck, which he drove to a gas station a few miles away. He returned within 30 minutes, the truck was repaired, and he completed his delivery.

He was still fired.

"Seven different judges heard my case," Maddin said at a recent press conference with Democratic senators. "One of those judges found against me. That judge was Neil Gorsuch."

Making the Short List

At his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch was grilled over this decision, in particular by Senator Al Franken, who called the ruling "absurd." But it may have been this very decision that secured Gorsuch's nomination, says Maddin's attorney, Robert Fetter. He notes that Gorsuch was not on Trump's initial list of Supreme Court candidates.

Then Gorsuch issued his ruling in Maddin's case and found himself on Trump's second and final list. Trump was assisted in preparing these lists by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, two right-wing groups.

"Certainly, if I were the Chamber of Commerce or other business interest and I saw that decision," Fetter told Democracy Now, "that signals to me that this is my kind of guy."

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