Steve Farber, one of Denver’s most powerful attorneys, lobbyists, and strategists, died Wednesday morning at his home, surrounded by his family, according to an announcement from his longtime business partner, Norm Brownstein. No cause of death has been released. Farber was 76.
“For more than 50 years, Steve and I were partners on this incredible journey that started on the playground at Colfax Elementary,” Brownstein wrote in a statement posted on the website of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. “Throughout his career, Steve was one of the most respected and accomplished leaders in the country. He inspired change not only at the firm, but throughout Colorado and across the nation. Steve was often the first call CEOs, politicians, and community leaders made because they knew he would find a way to get the job done. … Goodbye my brother. It’s been an incredible ride.”
The law office Farber co-founded in 1968 with his childhood friends ultimately grew into one of the most influential lobbying firms in the country—producing tens of millions of dollars in revenue annually. In fact, last summer the Denver Post reported that Brownstein took in more revenue lobbying the federal government than any other firm nationwide.
Farber had close ties to power brokers and politicians across the country, including former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who unsuccessfully ran for president last year and is now mounting a campaign for U.S. Senate. Farber helped Hickenlooper raise money during various elections and before that chaired two of former Governor Roy Romer’s successful campaigns.
“I think [Hickenlooper] put it best when he said, ‘Steve has millions of friends but you always feel like you are the most important,'” Brownstein’s statement reads.
Among Farber’s local accomplishments, he spearheaded the fundraising effort to bring the Democratic National Convention to Denver in 2008, something on which he worked closely with then Mayor Hickenlooper. Additionally, his firm was a key player in the negotiations to build the Pepsi Center and helped secure airline contracts prior to the construction of Denver International Airport. (His sons Brad, Brent, and Gregg Farber are the co-founders and principals of Elevation Development Group, the developer of metro Denver projects such as LoDo’s Hardware Block.)
It’s no surprise that in 1998 Farber graced the cover of 5280 magazine as the “most powerful person in Denver.” He was a perennial on the magazine’s power list, and most recently, in 2014, we wrote: “Now nearing the twilight of their careers, Norman Brownstein and Steven Farber, two longtime Denver (and national) power players, still wield considerable influence.”