Godes: Glenwood airport becomes hobby clubhouse monopolized by the privileged few

Gun Rights

Glenwood Springs City Council recently voted for a 40-year lease with a small group of Glenwood Springs airport users to manage 63 acres of public land. At last count 12 Glenwood residents housed a plane at the airport, while the rest are users from Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties. This will allow the property to be an exclusive hobby clubhouse monopolized by the privileged few. The public will see 1% ($3,000-$4,000 annually), while the lessee gets the other 99% of the revenue. How many streets could be rebuilt with a free market lease? Is this a good deal for the taxpayers?

More troubling is that they seek to incorporate as a 501(c)(4), widely known as a “political dark money group.” Examples of C4s are the National Rifle Association, American Civil Liberties Union, and the Faith & Freedom Coalition. They can legally fund political candidates and influence elections. Since the Supreme Court’s “Citizen’s United” decision, these groups blossomed to spend billions each election cycle secretly. They are not required to provide details about where the money is from, or how it is spent. From a public policy standpoint, the non-transparency of 501(c)(4) organizations goes in the opposite direction of campaign contribution limits and disclosure laws.

Gregg Rippy, (who led negotiations on behalf of the airport users) insisted that they organized as a 501(c)(4), instead of a traditional NON-political 501(c)(3) nonprofit most of us are familiar with. This is particularly concerning given this group’s history of ignoring city and state election reporting laws. In November of 2022 the City overhauled campaign reporting requirements due to Rippy’s group ignoring the state’s campaign finance laws. As the head of the Garfield County Republican Party (and a former State Rep.), he certainly knows better. The airport group is also a client of the lawfirm Garfield & Hecht, which continues to proudly represent the RMI strip mine Glenwood has been vigorously fighting against. None of this seems coincidental.

The airport’s future is secure for the next 40 years, but maybe we should ask Mr. Rippy why it seems to be in such a politically intentional manner.

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Jonathan Godes

Glenwood Springs

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