THE BLOG
06/20/2016 06:20 pm ET Updated Jun 17, 2017

Personal Injury Lawyer Throws Money At District Attorney Races

If you like summer election mysteries, you'll enjoy pondering why personal injury attorney Frank Azar gave $50,000 to a committee backing Denver District Attorney candidate Michael Carrigan.

The Colorado Independent's Marrianne Goodland first reported the donation last month, but Azar, whose ads are a well-known blight on TV, wouldn't tell Goodland why he made the donation.

Last week, Azar's money was behind an ugly mailer attacking Carrigan's Democratic primary opponent, former State Rep. Beth McCann.

See the Carrigan mailer attacking Beth McCann here.

In response to the mailer, McCann wrote in an email to supporters, "The public has no way of knowing why Mr. Azar contributed $50,000 to elect my opponent."

Beth McCann for Denver District Attorney campaign manager Daniel Aschkinasi added in a statement, "This group has one purpose, and that is to smear the record of a dedicated public servant. At a time when our nation looks to solve gun violence issues, we have an opportunity to elect the woman who stood up to the NRA and passed universal background checks three years ago."

Goodland reported May 19:

Donors [to Fair Public Advocate, an independent expenditure committee] include Denver personal injury attorney Michael Sawaya, with $5,000. Another $1,000 came from attorney Norm Brownstein of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Schreck, one of Denver's best-known and most politically-connected law firms.

The biggest donation, $50,000, came in February from a Texas holding company, FDJR Holdings, Inc. of Houston.

According to the Texas Secretary of State, FDJR Holdings is one of a group of holding companies owned by Azar and/or his wife, Jeanette Renfro Azar.

Carrigan gave Goodland no explanation for the Azar donation, except to say that individuals and groups who "agree with my platform" are free to donate, but he will not be "beholden" to them. And he attacked McCann's donations, even though she has no comparable donation.

Azar is also bankrolling a committee, which lists former Secretary of State Scott Gessler as its registered agent, that's backing incumbent Dave Young in the Adams County DA race.

Good journalism frequently starts with a good question. In this case it is this: Why is big bad personal injury attorney Azar spending 50K to back Carrigan? What is he hoping to get out of Denver's next district attorney? And has Carrigan promised him anything?