Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Salt Lake City's Million Dollar Mayor's Race

Posted By on October 27, 2015, 6:29 PM

Since the August primary election, dollar bills have continued piling up in the accounts of Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and his challenger Jackie Biskupski, who have spent a combined $1.4 million on the race, campaign finance documents show.

Biskupski, who beat Becker by 15 percentage points in the August primary, took in the largest haul, raising $330,407 in the past 84 days. During this same time Becker, who is seeking his third term in office, raised $174,358.

Since the campaign began, the pair has raised roughly the same amount, with Becker bringing in $676,618 to Biskupski's $620,878. Becker has outspent Biskupski, who served for 13 years in the Utah Legislature, by $326,978. Becker's total spending is $863,439. The difference between the amount he has spent and the amount he's raised stems from a campaign war chest he'd amassed while in office and from past races.

Biskupski has spent $536,420. She has $84,000 remaining in her bank account, while Becker has dropped all but $13,512.

The most recent round of financial disclosures show that Biskupski carried significant momentum out of her primary victory. The largess of Biskupski's fundraising haul since the primary came courtesy of 765 individual donors to Becker's 320. 

Salt Lake City has limited campaign contributions to $7,500 from individuals and corporations, and the latest round of rundraising saw many locals reaching this level. For Becker, A. Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zion's Bank, donated $7,500, as did Anderson's wife, Jesselie. Lessing Stern gave Becker $7,500 and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams gave $7,000 through Ben's Leadership Political Action Committee. 

If $7,500 just isn't enough, there are ways to donate more. During the primary, for instance, Reagan Outdoor Advertising gave $7,500 to Biskupski and several other candidates, then formed a "Super PAC" that spent boatloads more on billboards supporting all of the candidates except Becker. 

Becker, and even some of the candidates who found themselves on the receiving end of Reagan's support, decried the spending as a blatant effort to circumvent the city's campaign contribution laws.

But some of Becker's supporters play a very similar game, donating the maximum amount individually, then pushing more cash toward the campaign through various companies. In the most recent disclosures, filed with the Salt Lake City Clerk's Office on Tuesday, the businessman and ski resort owner Ian Cumming illustrated this practice. 

During this campaign, Cumming, a Jackson Hole, Wyoming resident, and his wife, Annette Cumming, each gave $7,500 to Becker. Cumming's company, Powdr. Corp, which owns a large stake in Snowbird Ski Resort, gave $7,500 to Becker, Cumming Investment Company LC, and Cumming Management LC, which both have the same Wyoming address as Ian Cumming, each gave $5,000 to Becker.

Real Salt Lake owner and developer Dell Loy Hansen personally gave Becker $3,500, but his assortment of companies, including Wasatch Commercial Management, Wasatch Property Management, Wasatch Acquisitions and Capital gave $4,250. 

Biskupski picked up $7,500 donations from Bruce Lefavi, John Thackeray, KSG Properties, Lion Outdoor, an Austin, Texas company, and Mary Stokes. 

Peggy Tomsic, one of the attorneys who successfully challenged Utah's law that forbid same-sex marriage, gave Biskupski, who during her time in the Legislature was the state's first openly gay law maker, gave $4,600. 

Some entities, like the real-estate developer Boyer Company, gave equally ($5,000), to each candidate. 

The general election is Nov. 3. 

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