Kagan, Watson Trade Barbs in Bid for Statehouse Seat

September 26, 2012

ROYAL REAL ESTATE: Barkisland Hall, one of the many posh properties in the UK that was owned by the Kagan family

DENVER – A measure of the contentious contest in House District 3 are a flurry of competing flyers — one depicting Republican candidate Brian Watson swilling champagne in the backseat of a sleek limo, and another accusing Democrat state Rep. Daniel Kagan treating voters “like his own ATM (Automatic Taxpayer Machine).”

Colorado Citizens for Accountable Colorado criticized Kagan for “increasing taxes and fees on everything from car registrations to movies… stopping businesses from creating jobs.”

Colorado Accountable Government Alliance Independent Expenditure Committee accused Watson of running for office in order to reform tax laws “so that millionaires like himself pay less while everyone else pays more in taxes each year.”

Though the liberal group’s mailer was a hit on Watson, the caricature of a “one-percenter” imposing taxes on working class Coloradans may be a better fit for Kagan.

The second son born to Lord Joseph and Lady Margaret Kagan, Daniel Kagan was raised in Yorkshire in the United Kingdom.  His parents, now deceased, were Lithuanian Jews who survived the Holocaust. They joined Joseph’s father in Great Britain where he gave his son a job in his textile business, but he soon formed his own company.

In addition to a residence in London, the Kagan family lived at Delamare in Fixby, holidayed at the Eusemere in the Lake District and entertained corporate guests at Barkisland Hall in Calderdale – all historic English manses.

In contrast, Watson was raised on a ranch in Olathe, Colorado owned by his parents Carol and Bill Watson, who worked in construction and sold insurance.  Brian Watson was 16 years old when his father died right before his eyes. His mother went back to school and Brian took care of his siblings and earned money by shoveling horse stables.

When Daniel Kagan was born in 1953, Lord Kagan was fast becoming a textile tycoon with coats made of Gannex, a wool and nylon fabric that he patented. Published newspaper photos of British Labour politician James Harold Wilson wearing the coat made it a hot fashion item.

After Wilson became Prime Minister in 1964, Kagan became a frequent visitor at 10 Downing Street. The clever marketer also gave coats to several political leaders including U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and USSR Premier Nikita Khruschev.

In 1969, however, Sir Kagan’s weekly chess game with Richardas Vaygauska, a fellow Lithuanian and KGB agent, was scrutinized by MI5.  Wilson dismissed the suspicion that Kagan was leaking state secrets as a smear on the textile merchant’s character, and knighted him in 1970, and bestowed title of Baron in 1976. The KGB operative was expelled for espionage in 1971.

The family and textile empire began to falter in 1978 when Sir Kagan was charged with fraud to evade taxes. To avoid being arrested and extradited, Sir Kagan went to Spain with a mistress in her twenties. But when he traveled to Paris without her, she alerted authorities and he was arrested.

Kagan was fined ₤375 pounds, sentenced to 10 months at Rudgate prison in Yorkshire, and stripped of his knighthood, but he retained the title of Baron.

While the family was coping with that turmoil and sagging product sales, Daniel Kagan, then age 22, was pursuing the American dream.

According to his bio posted on a Democratic Party website in 2009, Kagan arrived in 1975, and “joined the Teamsters and loaded freight onto trucks in Dallas, Texas.”

Kagan agreed to be interviewed by the The Colorado Observer, and readily recalled his parents’ survival in a concentration camp in Lithuania. He waxed on about the meaning of the American dream, but asked if he came here for a job, business or college, Kagan stalled.

“I’m not going to do an interview this evening,” said Kagan.  Asked to take two minutes to answer the question, he repeated, “I’m not going to do an interview this evening.”

According to Kagan’s resume, he became a U.S. citizen and graduated from George Washington University in 1984, and Yale Law School in 1987. He and his wife Faye set up a law practice in the Washington D.C. area in 1989, focused on “criminal defense of indigents” and representing “civil plaintiffs in actions against insurance companies and large corporations.”

Washington, D.C. nor Colorado currently list Dan Kagan and Faye Kagan as licensed attorneys.

In 1995, his father died and Kagan traveled to Yorkshire to join his mother, brother and sister in selling the abandoned, dilapidated factory that once had employed 1,000 workers as well as the family’s grand homes – all valued in millions of pounds and owned by the company.

Kagan and his family all served as the privately-held company’s board of directors.

Lady Kagan told the Huddersfield Daily Examiner that Eusemere on Ullswater, which was put on the market for ₤ 3 million pounds (about $6 million) was her favorite home. She recalled inviting disadvantage children once a year to spend the day and sleep in tents on the grounds.

“All good things come to an end,” said Lady Kagan. “I still spend ₤2 pounds on two lottery tickets every Saturday… if my numbers come up I might end up buying it back from our company Kagan Textiles.”

The company even purchased Daniel and Faye Kagan’s $2.3 million home in the Cherry Hills Farm subdivision in 2009. The following year, the company deeded the property to the couple – and the company was officially dissolved.

The value of Kagan Mills had dropped from hundreds of millions in pounds to a few hundred thousand, but unclear is what happened to the millions derived from selling its assets. Lady Kagan died in 2011, and left a ₤ 750,000 pounds divided equally to her three children.

Now Kagan, who is unemployed,  is focused fulltime on winning reelection to the HD3 seat that he was appointed to fill in 2009 when former state Rep. Anne McGihon resigned to become a lobbyist.

“It’s a very competitive race,” declared Kagan who has raised $118,028 according to the Sept. 14 campaign finance report. Watson garnered $209,882 in total.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

3 Responses to Kagan, Watson Trade Barbs in Bid for Statehouse Seat

  1. Terry simone
    September 26, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Must read


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