Mayoral finance reports: PACs and consultants

Let’s take a deeper dive into Mayoral candidate fundraising by examining one of the main categories of raised funds, and one of the main categories of spent funds. I speak of PAC money for the former, and consultant fees/staff salaries for the other. Here’s how much each candidate raised in PAC funds in their July report:

Candidate PAC $ Total $ PAC % ========================================= Turner 127,650 747,793 17.1% Costello 124,500 1,276,281 9.8% Garcia 87,150 1,441,792 6.0% King 41,000 721,250 5.7% Bell 5,500 366,770 1.5% McVey 3,000 43,927 6.8% Hall 0 69,025 0.0%

As a reminder, you can see all the finance reports that have been submitted on my Election 2015 page. I considered any contributor identified as a PAC or a business of some kind to be a “PAC” for these purposes. If you want to be technical, I’m adding up the contributions that didn’t come from individuals or couples. I also did not include in kind contributions in these totals. For most candidates, I found the value represented in the “Total $” column on the new Subtotals page, which is the modification to the forms that caused all of the trouble this cycle. Ben Hall, of course, didn’t bother with that page, and also included the $850,000 he loaned himself in his “Total Political Contributions” entry. His form was pretty short and it was easy enough to sort it out. Steve Costello’s total above is lower than what you’ll find on his report. This is because he contributed $175K to his campaign – it was reported as a contribution, not a loan – and his PAC donated an additional $10K. For the purposes of this post, I excluded them from his total amount, and didn’t add the PAC contribution to the “PAC $” figure. Sylvester Turner definitely gets the benefit of being a long-term office holder. We’ll see other effects of that in subsequent reports. I expect Adrian Garcia will pull in more PAC money for the 30 day report. As impressive as his haul is, he’s still catching up in some ways.

Now let’s look at the other side of the ledger:

Candidate Salary $ Consult $ Sum $ Raised Pct ========================================================== King 67,289 306,400 373,689 721,250 51.8% Turner 131,192 224,000 355,192 747,793 47.5% Costello 120,932 181,800 302,732 1,276,281 23.7% Bell 102,226 30,350 132,576 366,770 36.1% Garcia 52,427 31,300 83,727 1,441,792 5.8% McVey 60,500 9,000 69,500 43,927 158.2% Hall 0 24,200 24,200 69,025 35.1%

There are two basic categories of paying for people to do stuff – “Salaries/Wages/Contract Labor” and “Consulting”. I added all of the former to “Salary $”, and I also included anything classified as health insurance for staffers and payroll taxes. I did not include fees paid to payroll management services like ADI, because I’m just obstreperous like that. Here you can see the advantage of Adrian Garcia’s late entry into the race – unlike several of his competitors, he hasn’t been paying for staffers and consultants since January. Bill King raised a decent amount of money, but man that’s a big burn rate. If he’s going to hire all those people and run an air campaign, he’s going to have to keep writing checks to himself. Turner’s burn rate is almost as high, but he started out with (and still has) a lot of cash, and his strategy seems to be more targeted, and thus less likely to run into five- and six-figure media buys. Costello spent almost as much as those two did on people, but his much bigger haul gives him a lot of cushion. Bell is going to need to figure out how to run a lean and cost-effective campaign, because he’s not living in the same ZIP code as those four. While multiple candidates are doing at least some self-financing, Marty McVey shows what the edge case for that looks like. He literally wouldn’t have a campaign without his own money, and he still has plenty of it to spend. It will be interesting to see what he does with it. As for Ben Hall, all I will say is that he paid $12,500 to the Hall Law Firm for legal expenses. Hey, if you want something done right, you do it yourself, amirite?

In the next entry in this series, I’ll take another look at where all this money is coming from. You’re not at all wrong to think we’re swimming in it in a way that we weren’t in 2009 or 2003.

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4 Responses to Mayoral finance reports: PACs and consultants

  1. Mainstream says:

    I have neither the patience nor the time to get so deep into the weeds on these reports, but applaud you for doing so. Here are some incomplete details about the other candidate reports which I skimmed:

    First, Ellen Cohen has drawn a challenger, Jason Hochman, a grant writer at Rice and the medical center, whose campaign issues include opposing the homeless feeding ordinance, criticism of the 380 funding provided to WalMart, support for a higher city minimum wage.

    Second, I was impressed by the fundraising results in the At-Large #4 contest. Amanda Edwards had a huge lead, mostly Democrat activists, along with Ivy League classmates, but also at least two prominent black Republicans, former congressional candidate Clark Kent Ervin, and Willie Alexander. Laurie Robinson has mostly the Riverside elite on her list, while Edwards seemed to have broad support across the Democrat spectrum. Matt Murphy had a number of grassroots Republicans in his modest fundraising, including activists and precinct chairs Artemio Muniz, Jason Ryan, Buffie Ingersoll, and former mayoral candidate and HD 149 candidate Jack O’Connor. He loaned himself $10K. Jonathan Hansen has mostly family and friends, with a personal loan of $7K. Lt. Col. (ret.) Roy Morales, former mayoral and CD 29 candidate, got in late, had little fundraising, but a couple of Republican stalwarts donated. Larry Blackmon, who has run for office both as a D and R candidate had no filings that I saw.

    Third, one of At Large 5 council member Jack Christie’s opponents, Philip Nassif had a decent war chest of $73K in contrast to $124K for the incumbent, but had spend most of his funds already.

    In the controller’s contest, Chris Brown had the usual Democrat donors, and Bill Frazer had a broad range of Republican donors, with a few outliers. Carroll Robinson had a few downtown Republican names, former GOP judge Dwight Jefferson (but who has voted in the last three Democrat primaries) had the quirky former councilmember Rob Todd’s backing, and Jew Don Boney had former GOP judge Levi Benton on his team. Benton is also treasurer for Andrew Burks.

    James Bigham running in District J against incumbent Mike Laster had only a couple of donors, one a prominent socially conservative Republican.

  2. Paul kubosh says:

    Nice post

  3. Greg Wythe says:

    Worth pointing out that not all expenses labeled “Consulting” is created equal. Some of the higher dollar expenses are likely to include pass-through expenses on things like printing, ad production, and sometimes even things like postage and airtime. The letter of the law says they’re supposed to be broken out, but I’ve never known that to be strictly enforced.

  4. Pingback: A closer look at Controller finance reports – Off the Kuff

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