Here are the articles of incorporation for Velvet Revolution. You can see that the original directors were Brad Friedman, Ben Gelt, Jeff Cohen, and Brett Kimberlin.
Ben Gelt is the son of a former Denver city councilwoman and lawyer:
All politics are local: While Michael Huttner’s homegrown political movement — formerly the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network, now Progressnow.org — continues to grow (see City Limits), another native son has started his own political nonprofit. Ben Gelt, son of former Denver city councilwoman Susan Barnes-Gelt and powerhouse lawyer/Dem Howard Gelt, has been involved in politics since he was born. Now, at the ripe age of 23, he’s started the Velvet Revolution, which aims to raise awareness about voter-fraud issues in the past three elections.
Ben Gelt was also arrested for drug dealing:
Ben Gelt is not a typical college sophomore. . . . Gelt’s career as a youth-activist star didn’t stop when he enrolled at American University (AU) almost two years ago. Last year, he contributed to a Bush administration report on youth violence. And in February, Gelt, 20, joined Secretary of State Colin Powell at a so-called youth summit organized by Rock the Vote and MTV.
Less than a week later, Gelt would add yet another distinction to his ambitious resume: alleged drug dealer.
On Feb. 22, more than two dozen officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Drug Enforcement Agency stormed the dorms at AU in a late-night raid that had been in the works for nearly two months.
What they found was a drug-sniffing dog’s dream: an unspecified amount of marijuana, opium and other narcotics, tabs of Ecstasy, drug paraphernalia, and more than $15,000 in cash. By the end of the night, cops had arrested Gelt and five other students and had seized a car allegedly involved in what they deemed a significant drug operation.
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Gelt was charged with distribution of opium, a felony in the District, and spent the night in jail. Later, however, prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office changed the charge against Gelt to possession with intent to distribute marijuana, a misdemeanor. Because the threshold for a felony in the District is a half-pound of marijuana or more, it appears that Gelt, who pleaded innocent to the charges, was caught with a fairly small amount of the drug. His trial is set for April 19.
Prosecutors are less clear on why the opium charge against Gelt didn’t stick. Channing Phillips, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, says that prosecutors file charges on what they believe they can prove at the time an individual is arraigned. But Phillips notes that federal law requires a grand jury to investigate possible felony cases, and though he will not comment on whether a jury has been convened to investigate the AU drug bust, he says that further charges against Gelt could be pending.
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Although Gelt did not respond to interview requests, his parents, who are footing the bill for their son’s defense, are talking. His mother, Susan Barnes-Gelt, is a member of the Denver City Council and has been mentioned as a potential mayoral candidate. Howard Gelt, Ben Gelt’s father, is a former chair of the state Democratic Party in Colorado. Both say their son is a good kid, not the brains behind a major drug operation.
Gelt later pled to possession of marijuana. A drug-trafficking charge was dismissed.