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Redtail Ridge: A Path for Dark Money in Louisville

Redtail Ridge: A Path for Dark Money in Louisville


GPro-Development Nonprofit incorporates with the help of controversial operative Katie Kennedy.

Editor’s Note: Community Corner contributions are provided to Yellow Scene by community members and do not reflect the opinions held by YS media or its staff.

Documents filed with the Colorado Secretary of State have revealed “Yes for Louisville,” a Nonprofit Corporation supporting the proposed Redtail Ridge development, was incorporated with the help of controversial GOP consultant Katie Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy, the principal of Strategic Compliance LLC, has been associated with several dark money campaigns in Erie, Denver, and Wyoming.

On April 19, voters in Louisville will decide the future of Redtail Ridge, a massive commercial and industrial complex to be built along US-36.  The 3-million square foot development is owned by Brue Baukol Capital Partners of Denver. Opponents of Redtail Ridge fear this move to incorporate as a Nonprofit could unfairly sway the April referendum.

Ms. Kennedy, who has deep ties to the oil and gas industry, is a registered agent for over 50 different committees throughout the state. During the 2020 election, Kennedy helped the conservative advocacy group, “Unite for Colorado,” avoid disclosing its donors and expenditures for several Colorado political campaigns by incorporating as a Nonprofit Corporation rather than as a Campaign Issue Committee. Nonprofits are not subject to the same financial disclosure rules as Issue Committees. Issue Committees are required to report every contribution and expenditure over $20. A formal complaint with the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts alleged “Unite for Colorado” concealed millions of dollars through a “shell” organization. This violation resulted in fines and an order for “Unite for Colorado” to register as an Issue Committee.

Some Louisville residents fear that the Kennedy-influenced “Yes for Louisville” Nonprofit may use some of the same dark money methods to keep sizeable donations supporting Redtail Ridge from becoming public.

“That’s really alarming that an industry front group could be creating a path for big money from undisclosed donors to influence our local election,” said Cindy Bedell, a member of Citizens for a Vibrant, Sustainable Louisville, the Issue Committee that opposes Redtail Ridge.

Many residents oppose Redtail Ridge because of its massive scale, traffic, environmental impacts, and economic risk.

“There is an important word to describe the ‘Yes for Louisville’ campaign: ‘astroturfing,’ said Sam Shaw, the Louisville resident who uncovered the connection to Ms. Kennedy. “This word is used by political scientists to describe a sophisticated influence campaign that seeks to create an artificial perception of grass-roots support for a given policy or movement. The coordinated manipulation of small-town politics with these kinds of strategies is beyond disturbing.”

Louisville resident and registered agent for “Citizens for a Vibrant Sustainable Louisville” Sherry Sommer said: “We look forward to sharing our list of donations and expenditures. We are a grassroots organization, and our donations are entirely local. All work on the campaign is done exclusively and entirely by Louisville volunteers. Proponents of this development have formed a second legal entity.  It is critical that there is complete transparency regarding all funds accessed by the “Yes” campaign.”

The Louisville Special Election will be April 19. If built, the 390-acre Redtail Ridge will add 20,000 additional vehicle trips in Louisville. The Redtail Ridge site includes 150+ acres of undeveloped land that is home to native plants and abundant wildlife including redtail hawks, prairie dogs, and coyotes. Developer Brue Baukol wants to construct 5-story buildings, the tallest in Louisville.

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