Jul 27, 2021 - Politics
Kent Thiry's indictment carries deep political implications
Kent Thiry, second from left, stands with former Gov. John Hickenlooper, far left, and state lawmakers. Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Kent Thiry, second from left, stands with former Gov. John Hickenlooper, far left, and state lawmakers. Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The indictment of Kent Thiry holds major political ramifications in Colorado because of the former DaVita CEO's deep ties to top leaders in both parties.

Just in January, Gov. Jared Polis awarded Thiry the governor's citizenship medal for innovation.

  • The Democratic governor called Thiry one of the state's most successful executives and "a force of nature."
  • In a video at the award presentation, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, touted Thiry's work to pass two ballot measures creating independent redistricting commissions.

Polis also recently praised his administration's partnership with two economic development entities Thiry led at the time — Colorado Thrives and Energize Colorado.

Context: A federal grand jury indicted Thiry and DaVita, a dialysis provider, earlier this month on two charges of labor market collusion.

  • Thiry served as CEO for 20 years through 2019 and departed as executive chairman in June 2020. He's now a consultant for investment firm KKR.

Details: Thiry's a longtime political player. All told, he has donated at least $7 million to state and federal political candidates and causes since 2008, records show. The donations went to Democratic, Republican and independent committees.

  • Thiry also donated money to then-Governor (now Democratic U.S. Sen.) John Hickenlooper.

Between the lines: Thiry's criminal indictment is a bad look for the Colorado politicians who aligned with him, particularly if the charges hold. And it may hurt campaigns that count him as an ally and financial backer if Thiry decides to play a smaller role and shut his wallet.

What they're saying: Nothing. Polis declined to comment. And the spokespeople for Bennet and Hickenlooper didn't return messages from Axios Denver.

  • The community response since Thiry's indictment has been "overwhelming and positive," his spokesperson Karen Crummy told Axios.

Thiry's attorney says the criminal charges are baseless and told CBS4 that prosecutors trumped up the evidence used against him.

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