Former eBay executive Meg Whitman, currently running first in at least one poll of voter sentiment in her race for the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination, gave $1.15 million to Valley Floor Preservation Partners. That’s the group in Telluride, Colorado, that for decades battled La Jolla’s Neal Blue over the fate of some 570 acres of open space owned by Blue at the entrance to town. Blue, who owns defense contractor General Atomics with his brother Linden, wanted to build acres of condos and shops there; a majority of the town’s denizens wanted to preserve it as is.
Last year, the preservationists won a 6–1 Colorado Supreme Court decision upholding the city’s right to condemn the property. This June the land was deeded to the town in exchange for $50 million, plus interest, paid to Blue, raised partially through public contributions, including Whitman’s.
But Whitman, who owns a condo and a ranch near the posh ski resort, is now coming under fire from conservative rivals, who say the contribution shows she is too environmentally friendly, reports the San Jose Mercury News. That forced Whitman to issue a statement saying that despite the Telluride contribution — discovered on her foundation’s IRS filing — she remains opposed to government condemnation. “She strongly believes that the government should not be able to arbitrarily seize land from private citizens,” Tucker Bounds, Whitman’s assistant campaign manager, said. Whitman also gave $200,000 to the Environmental Defense Fund to rescue the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, although she opposed the group’s position in public, the paper reported.