Vail Resorts puts money into Rob Bishop, Gary Herbert campaigns
Two entities tied to Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts have made contributions to Republican candidates who will be on the ballot in Summit County in November.
The contributions were not high-dollar sums, but they indicate the Colorado firm will continue its political activism in Utah during the 2016 election cycle. The contributions were made in the spring, well before the November ballot was finalized in a June primary election.
The campaign money went to the re-election bid of Gov. Gary Herbert and Congressman Rob Bishop, who is seeking another term in the 1st Congressional District. Park City and surrounding Summit County are within the congressional district.
According to federal and state financial disclosures, an entity called the Vail Resorts Employee Political Action Committee contributed $2,500 to Bishop’s campaign on March 7 while the Vail Resorts Management Company contributed $3,000 to Herbert’s successful primary-election efforts on May 2.
Although the dollar figures are not significant, it is the second consecutive election cycle in Utah that has drawn attention from Vail Resorts. The company acquired PCMR in 2014.
“Vail Resorts appreciates the work our elected representatives undertake and we are happy to provide modest non-partisan support for candidates who represent resort communities and support outdoor recreation and tourism,” Kristin Kenney Williams, the vice president of mountain community affairs for Vail Resorts, said in a prepared statement. “We view this as being a part of the local communities in which we operate – where issues of tourism and recreation are paramount. In addition to contributing to campaigns, we strive to work with our elected representatives to create the best environment in which our local communities can prosper.”
Bishop, meanwhile, said in a prepared statement a campaign contribution would not influence him as he considers whether to support or oppose legislation. He said he would accept a contribution from an organization like the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, or SUWA, a not-for-profit that generally opposes Bishop’s stands on public lands.
“Until The Park Record contacted me, I was not aware of how much money this PAC had actually given. It may have been part of a political effort, or it may have been unsolicited,” Bishop said. “I don’t recall conversations with this employee PAC on specific legislation, and as much as I am grateful for any campaign contribution, there is no one contribution, or any amount of a contribution that would ever change my vote in Congress. I’d even accept money from SUWA, for example, but they’re never likely to agree with my votes, and their contributions would never change my votes.”
Peter Clemens, the Democrat attempting to oust Bishop in November, said Vail Resorts has not contacted him about a contribution. He said a contribution to the Bishop campaign is “incongruous” with Vail Resorts’ interests since, according to Clemens, the incumbent’s environmental platform does not jibe with the ski industry.
“It’s very surprising. I would think they would look at somebody like myself . . . because I am not a climate-science denier,” Clemens said.
He said Bishop supports energies that emit carbon emissions and said the incumbent’s initiative regarding public lands is an “assault on wilderness.”
“He’s been no supporter at all of the outdoor industry and the outdoor industry agenda,” Clemens said.
The Herbert re-election campaign, meanwhile, has received a series of other contributions from the ski industry. Contributors from the industry include Deer Valley Resort Company, Solitude Mountain Resort, Alta Ski Area, Snowbird, Brighton Ski Resort as well as Utah resorts from outside the Wasatch Front. The Deer Valley Resort Company contributed $3,000, according to state disclosure records.
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Arlene Loble served as the Park City manager in the 1980s, a pivotal period that prepared the community for the boom years that would follow in the 1990s. Loble, who recently died, is credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the municipal government that was needed amid the growth challenges.