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John Elway goes deep with political contributions

Author: Mark Harden - October 22, 2018 - Updated: October 23, 2018

John Elway, general manager and president of football operations of the Denver Broncos. (David Zalubowski, AP-file)

It’s not all about running the Denver Broncos these days for John Elway. No. 7 also has a game plan for politics.

While Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum has been getting picked off like crazy this season — including once Thursday night by the Arizona Cardinals — political causes have been intercepting cash from his boss.

Groups affiliated with Republican Walker Stapleton’s campaign for governor have been the go-to receivers of contributions from the Hall of Famer, according to state and federal databases of political donations.

John Elway lobbed $10,000 to Better Colorado Now, an independent expenditure committee supporting Stapleton, back in August 2017, a month before Republican Stapleton announced his candidacy, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s TRACER database.

The quarterback turned Broncos executive and his wife, Paige, followed that up in February of this year with twin $1,150 hand-offs — the maximum individual contributions allowed — directly to Stapleton for Colorado, the candidate’s campaign, state records show.

And then, in August, Elway went deep to the federal Stapleton Victory Fund, a so-called “joint fundraising committee” that gathers contributions and distributes them among the Stapleton campaign and various Republican entities.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, John and Paige Elway each gave the Stapleton Victory Fund $14,825 in August of this year.

When he wasn’t targeting Stapleton, Elway was looking downfield for Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, who is facing a tough re-election challenge in the 6th Congressional District from Democrat Jason Crow. The two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback donated a combined $2,700 to Coffman for Congress 2018 in two separate donations this spring, FEC records show.

And the Elways have been generous this season toward various arms of the Republican Party. John and Paige Elway each contributed $10,000 to the Colorado Republican Committee on Aug. 28, FEC records show.

The state database, meanwhile, shows the Elways each donating $3,050 to the state Republican Committee on Aug. 15, and a combined total of $3,650 to various other fundraising entities affiliated with the state GOP, including the Republican Committee’s PAC, on that date.

Also, John Elway in March gave $500 to Values First Colorado, a group supporting Republican candidates for the state House of Representatives.

And Elway has been doing more than writing checks. He appears in a video ad from Protect Colorado, an energy-industry-backed group opposed to Proposition 112, a measure on the November ballot that would greatly increase the buffer zone between homes and new oil and gas operations. (See the ad below.)

Political contributions (mostly to Republicans) are nothing new for the Broncos hero. Over the years he backed gubernatorial bids by Bob Beauprez and Scott McInnis and various legislative candidates — including Brian Watson, now running for state treasurer, in an unsuccessful 2012 bid for the state House of Representatives.

While Elway likes to focus his political generosity on Broncos Country, last year he did let $250 fly to the campaign coffers of U.S. Rep. Karen Handel of Georgia in her bid for re-election.

Marianne Goodland of Colorado Politics contributed.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.