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Silverado 4: Larry Mizel, Silverado-Linked Developer Turned Philanthropist (Intro Remarks)

December 15, 2009

Well – we continue with our `Where Are They Now’ Series related to the Silverado Bank scandal of the late 1980s, one of Colorado’s biggest.

  • Michael Wise, the whiz kid from Emporia Kansas and former Silverado Bank president, ended it all a few months back by commiting suicide.
  • Ken Good, the flamboyant developer who showed up in a tux and tennis shorts and had liquor running through the plumbing system of Denver mansion, is still a developer, now in Texas it appears.
  • Same with Bill Walters, although he has relocated to Las Vegas.
  • E. Trine Starnes, with his links to the Nicaraguan Contras, seems to still be alive. Although I could not determine his where-abouts, there is at least one record of a New Orleans condominium sale a few years ago suggesting that he remains on this side of the great divide

Perhaps the most successful of the Silverado-connected people though is Denver’s own Larry Mizel, the founder of MDC – a real estate holding company, worth $4.8 billion just a few years ago. MDC borrowed a great deal of money from Silverado in the days before the collapse – we’ll look at that in a later entry – but the company, Mizel and his sidekick and assistant Dave Mandarich, somehow – with a little help from their legal team, Brownstein and Farber, came through all that smelling pretty good and today, while a few old cynics grumble how Mizel should be in prison, he is nothing short of the `toast of the town’ in Denver, the personal manifestation of the fusion of economic success with political power.

One cannot probe economic and political power in Colorado very much without coming across Mizel who has, for all intensive purposes, left his Silverado legacy far behind and moved into the `superstar’ stratosphere.  His name pops up often in one way or another. He is active in Colorado and national politics, in the Jewish Community, especially where it concerns support for Israel’s right wing, in the legislature where his friends and lobbyists have engineered significant tax cuts that would benefit his company, in the `museum’ community as a result of the Jewish museum that is named after him, etc. etc.

  • When it looked like there would be fight in the Republican Party primary for the governor’s seat last year, political blogs suggest that Mizel himself went to a number of the candidates (among the Josh Penry) to `persuade’ them not to run in order not to divide the party.
  • Several years back when the state legislature was about to pass a punishing bill against undocumented workers, it is said that Mizel – with long term buddy and life-saver Norm Brownstein, intervened personally with then conservative Republican (a former oil company lobbyist) Bill Owens. Owen was told that without `illegal immigrants’ as construction workers, the price of housing in Colorado would go up some 10%. Owens then vetoed a bill which he himself had pushed through the state legislature
  • Mizel’s political reach goes beyond the Republican Party that he has supported most of his life, to the Democrats as well. Ed Perlmutter and Michael Bennet, both liberal Demcrats, have lobbied on his behalf for federal funding for his `war against terrorism’ museum – the CELL – in downtown Denver. Denver’s Mayor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter have also done their bit for Mizel at different times and are careful to show up up at his mega parties with other political opportunists and ass-kissing `wannabes’ eager to be photographed with `Larry’ etc, etc.
  • Recently the Mizel-Brownstein team was featured on an email – along with Howard Boigon – announcing the then upcoming national American-Israel-Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) national conference in Washington DC. Turns out that both Mizel and Brownstein are (according to the email) on AIPAC’s national board. Mizel is also  current chairman of the board of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Never too far away from Mizel, Brownstein is also on the board of directors.

One could go on and on.

The above is, after all,  just a modest sampling; it all boils down to a simple fact. From a nearly indicted co-conspirator in the Silverado Bank Scandal – Mizel was given immunity from prosecution in exchange for turning state’s evidence against his own sub contractors – Larry Mizel has emerged 20 years on a very powerful man, whose influence goes far beyond Colorado. From alleged, would-be shyster to philanthropic icon in less than a quarter of a century. Not bad.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2011 2:34 pm

    Larry has also installed a toady as the owner of the Denver “press,” meaning virtually all the newspapers on the Front Range, and I do mean William Dean Singleton.

    Pete Brewton, in his 1992 book “The Mafia, CIA, and George Bush,” was a Houston Post reporter investigating the S&L frauds in the late 1980’s. His series was quashed. The owner of the Houston Post was William Dean Singleton, who also owned the Denver Post and told him he was good friends with Larry Mizel: they were introduced by Michael Milken.

    Brewton says of Singleton that he “was the protege of Houston banker and former Washington Star owner Joe Albritton” and “a junk-bond and borrowing patron with a milkquetoast personality (except when it comes to cutting staff) and unimpressive intellect who appeared to be fronting for someone else.” There is no question that anything Larry Mizel or Norm Brownstein does not want press on does not appear in the Denver Post, or any of the other Front Range newspapers Singleton owns (although actually, Bank of America now owns the Denver Post, or at least an 80% equity interest).

    Mizel anointed John Hickenlooper as Colorado’s next governor before he ran in 2010–you of course must have seen the big picture in the Post when the kingmaking occurred at a restaurant in the Denver Tech Center.

    Here’s another one that mobbed-up crowd controls: Obama. Remember that Steve Farber (partner of Brownstein) brought the Democratic National Convention to Denver in 2008, where Obama was nominated. The way I see it, the appointment of Brownstein toady Ken Salazar, as well as five other Coloradans (including former BHFS partner Tom Strickland), at Interior was payback from Obama for the nomination. And hey, not only for the nomination, but the undoubted cash that flowed his way under the table in Denver, where there are no criminal investigations or prosecutions–not of white collar crime, at any rate, and not if you are part of the Mizel/BHFS mob.

  2. February 5, 2016 10:58 am

    Thank you very much. I have always admired Mr. Mizel.

    • February 5, 2016 11:02 am

      I can’t say I admire him, because I don’t…but he did, with a little help from friends, “clean up his act” from what I can tell – and that is more than can be said for some of “his colleagues.”


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  2. Larry Mizel and the Museum of (In) Tolerance in Jerusalem « Rob Prince's Blog

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