Favorite

Deep Pockets 

Mayoral Hopefuls Betsy Bolding and Bob Walkup Boost Their Campaign Treasuries.

THERE'S ONE THING you can say about Tucson's campaign finance law: it encourages candidates to frequently report their bank accounts.

Under the law, mayoral candidates who receive 300 contributions of at least $10 each from city residents are eligible to have every dollar they collect matched by city taxpayers. (Council candidates need only 200 contributions under the same rules.) In exchange, mayoral candidates agree to limit spending to $150,170, while Council candidates cannot spend more than $75,085.

That dollar-for-dollar is a strong incentive for candidates to report every cent they've raised. It's the reason that last week both Democrat Betsy Bolding and Republican Bob Walkup filed new campaign finance reports, even though the next report isn't due until August 26.

Bolding raised another $15,000 to put her at $45,380 as of July 9. Bolding, whose campaign slogan is "It's your Tucson, too," got a big boost from a Phoenix fundraiser that brought in nearly $2,100. Walkup raised another $10,000 between the end of the last filing period and July 23, to boost his total to $34,704. With matching funds, that puts $90,000 in Bolding's hands, while Walkup now has access to nearly $70,000.

Bolding may be putting distance between her Democratic rivals, who have only reported fundraising through May 31. Molly McKasson had raised $22,689, Janet Marcus had raised $11,183 and Pat Darcy had loaned his campaign $1,900. Both Marcus and McKasson have made their matching threshold, while Darcy says he delayed his fundraising efforts until he was sure he would make the ballot.

With public financing, the little people rub shoulders with fat cats to pay campaign bills. And taxpayers and campaign contributors are paying for candidates' rent, telephones, gas, dry cleaning, food, portraits and Web pages.

Walkup is asking for nearly $10,000 in matching funds. Among Walkup's $8,793 in expenses for the period is a lump sum $764 on June 3 for rent at his Winning Pathways Co. headquarters in suite 201 at 2761 N. Country Club Road and for "compensation" for Janine Kroebig, a campaign worker who also works for Winning Pathways.

In a separate entry, Walkup listed another $436 in rent to Winning Pathways, a software company, on July 7. Also listed separately in Walkup's most recent campaign finance report is $158 to Winning Pathways for telephone expenses and another $574 for compensation for Kroebig on June 25.

According to two financial reports, Walkup has used campaign funds to pay his company on at least 12 occasions at a total of more than $4,550. Listed separately, rent was $222 in March and April.

Additionally, Walkup had donors pick up the $146 tab for Voice Stream cell phone service on June 15, and $214 on June 18 for furniture rental.

The Walkup campaign also listed $21.60 twice for subscriptions to The Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Citizen and $39 to the Territorial newspaper.

Contributions and matching funds, according to city election law, must be used only for direct campaign purposes. Those include signs, printing and mailing of campaign literature, and media advertising. Furniture, office equipment or other durable goods that are purchased become city property at the conclusion of the campaign.

Rent and telephone expenses are also acceptable expenses. But few candidates locate campaign headquarters within their private business and then use shared workers, if only to avoid the accounting burden.

Moreover, campaign finance reports filed by candidates who apply for matching funds are audited by the Tucson accounting firm Radakovich, Amado, Stephenson and Furrier.

Walkup's staff said he was too busy to talk with The Weekly. But his communications director, Valerie Greenhill, said the campaign was using two offices within Winning Pathways' suite and was paying rent "just like any other lease."

She said she did not know the square footage involved or the cost per square foot.

Later, Greenhill faxed a few prepared answers from her boss, who declared: "We have a meticulous system in place which tracks and documents the usage of space, as well as usage of administrative support."

None of the details of the meticulous system was included in the communication director's communique.

Walkup joined the list of candidates trying to get the word out on the Web. He paid $75 to a Baltimore company for network registration and $351 more to Greenhill for Web service.

Bolding, currently on leave from her job as consumer affairs director for Tucson Electric Power, reported paying $500 to Firstbase Software in June for website design and maintenance. McKasson's campaign gave $200 to Liverpool Computer Center for Web service. Marcus and her former Ward 2 Council aide Carol West, who is hoping to succeed Marcus on the Council, spent $765 and $500 respectively for website design, maintenance and domain registration. Both used Proventures.

Candidates also spent big for photos. Bolding listed $216 to Foto Smith; $320 to Film Creations Ltd. for a photo shoot and VHS tape in May; and $218 to Paul Tosh for photography and art design.

McKasson gave $309 to photographer Tim Fuller, husband of one of McKasson's aides when she held the Ward 6 Council seat. Walkup paid $130 to Stoklos Photography. Rick Grinnell, the Republican who is making his second run for the City Council in northeast side Ward 2, reported spending $306 for his photos from David Bean. And José Ibarra, a Democrat seeking a second term in westside Ward 1, spent $148 for photographs that incorporated a neighborhood meeting in April.

Donors and taxpayers also are paying for the professional help assembled in the Walkup, Bolding, McKasson and Grinnell camps. In addition to paying Winning Pathways for Janine Kroebig's work, the Walkup campaign also has paid his campaign manager Sherry Potter $3,600, listed in equal installments on June 15 and June 30. Andrew Greenhill, Walkup's deputy campaign manager and the communications director's husband, has been paid $1,500, according to the reports.

Bolding's benefactors have paid her campaign manager, Pam Sutherland, a former Boston lawyer, $2,059 through June 15. Consultant Jan Lesher, without itemizing costs for fees, materials or postage, has been paid nearly $3,800 for work on Bolding's campaign, while speech coach Jesse Greenberg has been paid $1,020. Bolding also reported $868 in rent for her campaign office on Broadway at Alvernon.

McKasson paid Lyn Wilson, a former City Council aide, $2,207, and Carolyn Campbell, a McKasson Council aide, $250.

Grinnell, who has been forceful and direct in the early stages of his campaign, reported $3,285 in payments to his consultant Pam Ronstadt, whose work in 1997 was key to the surprising Ward 6 Council victory posted by her husband Fred Ronstadt, a Republican. Grinnell also reported $200 in accounting fees paid to Judy Bradley through June 24.

Grinnell, who has raised $14,698 and spent $9,531, also paid a $171 cell phone bill for Pam Ronstadt in May and $179 for his cell phone in April.

Some of the expenses Grinnell is charging his campaign are bundled, such as the $273 charge on May 27 that included $75 for phone, $83 for "auto expenses,'' $61 for dry cleaning, and $53 for lunch meetings.

Both Grinnell and Walkup may have minor contribution problems. Both accepted money from Michael Guymon, an energetic and effective aide to Councilman Ronstadt. Guymon gave Walkup $10 in February and Grinnell $35 in May. Guymon also was among the volunteer stage hands at Walkup's campaign kickoff at El Presidio Park during working hours.

The City Charter and city personnel rules set strict limits on political activity by all city employees. They may not give money to candidates for city office. Civil service employees may not take part "whatsoever in any campaign" for a candidate for city office, City Manager Luis Gutierrez said in a reminder to all city employees in a March policy statement.

Unclassified employees cannot "promote the candidacy or campaign of any person seeking office during hours of service or duty to the city," Gutierrez said in his admonition.

John Macko, an aide to Ward 4 Democrat Shirley Scott, made no cash contribution to any candidate. But he did work with Scott's husband, Joe, during city business hours one day last month to compare nomination petitions of Scott's rival in the September 7 primary, Debra L. Johnson, with voter registration data at the Pima County Recorder's Officer.

City election laws apply to Council aides, Gutierrez says.

"The Charter and Code do not make exceptions for Council aides," Gutierrez says.

Two candidates made strategic moves to return a few contributions. Bolding, for example, returned two contributions for a combined $150 made by city employees.

Bolding also returned a maximum $320 contribution from investor and land speculator Donald R. Diamond.

"He's sort of a lightning rod for things that are going on in the county, the sprawl," Bolding says. "He's a friend, a person who gives a lot to the community. But I thought it was the thing to do. I am being characterized as someone rabidly pro-growth and I'm not."

Still, Bolding kept the $150 that Diamond's daughter Helaine Levy contributed, as well as the $150 from Levy's husband, Yoram.

Scott, meanwhile, returned three checks of $300 each from El Con Mall partners Lee Kivel and Michael Papanikolas and their planner, Frank Thomson. But she kept a $100 contribution from mall lawyer Robert Gugino.

Scott did not return a call from The Weekly.

Some of the campaign reports show general sloppiness in following rules to get complete addresses and occupation for donors or failure to add total contributions.

Ward 1 Democrat Jose Ibarra, for example, has two $100 contributions from Larry Hecker, the Tucson lawyer who also is co-chairman of the Bolding campaign. Ibarra's report fails to provide a total. His report also lists a joint $600 contribution from lawyer and lobbyist Art Chapa and his wife Lynette and provides Chapa's law office as the couple's address.

Bolding and Scott received contributions from Mary Belle McCorkle, president of the Tucson Unified School District Board, of $50 and $35. Both inaccurately listed McCorkle as retired. Although McCorkle retired from TUSD and the Sunnyside Unified School District, she keeps a busy work schedule as a consultant.

More by Chris Limberis

  • The Skinny

    • Sep 22, 2005
  • Legal Briefs

    Unexpected Discovery and Disclosure in the Stidham Murder
    • Sep 22, 2005
  • The Skinny

    • Sep 15, 2005
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

The Range

Wednesday at the DNC

Pokémon Go in the Gardens (Plus a Plant Sale!)

Suppport Tucson Students' by Donating School Supplies

More »

Latest in Currents Feature

© 2016 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation