posted about the independent expenditure campaign
, TUSD Kids First. The main takeaway was that TKF had collected a total of $35,150, most of it from five local businesspeople: Committee Chair Jimmy Lovelace, $3,334; Treasurer Kathleen Campbell, $8,170; Cody Richie, $7,500; Jim Click, $7,500; and Tom Regina, $5,000. At the time, the TUSD board candidates and TKF had submitted their Pima County campaign finance reports listing their contributions through Aug. 18. Since then, a new set of finance reports have been filed which include contributions through Sept. 19. The only new contribution to TKF was from Jimmy Lovelace for $216.05. However, new contributions to the candidates reveal more about the priorities of the independent expenditure committee.
TDK appears to have two main objectives. The first, which has been clear since the IE began in February, is to get rid of either or both of two current board members, Cam Juarez and Kristel Foster. That would shift the balance of power to a new board majority, replacing the current majority formed by Juarez, Foster and Adelita Grijalva to one which included Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks. The second objective, which has become clearer with the most recent financial statements, is to elect Brett Rustand as a member of the new majority.
Three of the major TKF contributors, Ritchie, Campbell and Flake, have been active in contributing to individual board candidates. Let's go through them one by one.
We'll begin with Cody Ritchie, even though at $7,500, he's not the largest TKF contributor, nor is he one of the two people running the committee. The reason to begin with Ritchie is, he's the principal owner and president of Crest Insurance Group. Board candidate Brett Rustand is a vice president at Crest, one of more than twenty employees with that title; it's a large company. That means Ritchie is Rustand's boss and most likely would be delighted to see his employee sitting on the TUSD board. Ritchie is a generous political donor who has given over $100,000 to political candidates over the past ten years, exclusively Republican candidates, including most recently, more than $5,000 to Donald Trump. His one contribution to a 2016 TUSD board candidate was for $1,000 to Brett Rustand. He gave $1,500 to Michael Hicks' reelection campaign in 2014.
Next is Kathleen Campbell who gave $8,170 to TKF and is its treasurer. She isn't listed as giving any contributions to board candidates. However, her husband James gave $1,000 to Mark Stegeman's campaign and another $1,000 to Brett Rustand. Other than their contributions related to TUSD board races, the Campbells aren't big political donors. The only other recent contribution I found was $1,250 to Martha McSally's reelection campaign.