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Columbia Missourian

Council candidates, 911 tax committee file finance reports 8 days before election

By Hannah Cushman
March 28, 2013 | 5:49 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — In terms of fundraising, two candidates in Tuesday's municipal election have separated themselves from the rest, according to the latest round of campaign finance reports submitted to the Missouri Ethics Commission. 

Incumbent Mayor Bob McDavid has topped the total earnings list again, raising a total of $25,485 this election season. Fourth Ward candidate Ian Thomas isn't far behind, though; he's received $23,928 so far.

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Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl, however, has earned the most since the first finance reports were filed in late January. Those reports show his opponent, Karl Skala, took an early lead of several thousand dollars, but Kespohl's contributions have surged ahead in the past two months. He raised $19,000 to Skala's $2,500 during the most recent filing period.

The second greatest fundraiser since February was not a candidate at all. Citizens for Effective Emergency Response, the committee formed in support of Boone County's proposed sales-tax-funded emergency dispatch improvements, has amassed $17,450 for its campaign. Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill contributed almost a third of that sum, while Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller gave $1,000.

Mayoral race

McDavid earned an additional $12,905 this collection cycle, bringing his campaign coffer to a total of $25,485. That's less than half than the more than $50,000 he raised three years ago, but he remains the top fundraising candidate on Tuesday's ballot.

Sullivan has focused less on fundraising, adding $3,630 to the money he reported having in January, for a total of $9,400.

And while McDavid reported three times as many donations between $500 and $599 — six versus Sullivan's two — both mayoral candidates got more donations of $200 than any other amount.

Of Sullivan's contributors, all but one were individuals; Citizens Involved and Invested in Columbia, a political action committee organized last spring in opposition to blight, gave $500. A quarter of McDavid's 29 donations came from companies, including:

According to the report, McDavid has spent about as much on radio advertisement, his biggest expense, as Sullivan has spent in total this reporting period. The bulk of Sullivan's money has gone to Mail & More in Columbia for mailing services and postage.

At the close of the period, McDavid had about $17,000 remaining and no outstanding debt, while Sullivan had $2,000 on hand and $3,000 in bills yet to pay. 

Third Ward race

Although he got off to a slow start, Kespohl has collected about twice as much as his opponent, drawing all but $1,700 of his $21,000 total during the most recent filing period.

Skala has reported the opposite trend. His first report in late January showed he had raised more than $9,000. The report filed Monday listed about $2,500 more in contributions, for a campaign total of just under $12,000.

In all, 122 supporters donated to Kespohl. About a fifth of those were companies, mostly real estate and construction firms.  Kespohl's most generous single contribution, however, came from the political committee Friends of Caleb Jones. According the report, the 50th District Republican state representative's committee  gave Kespohl $1,000 on March 19. 

Skala received funding from 22 individuals and from one committee, the Mid-Missouri Labor Club. The union advocacy group gave Skala two donations about a week apart for a total contribution of $800.

Kespohl has funneled more than $7,000 into production and advertisement fees; Skala had spent $1,000 on newspaper ads. Neither candidate had exhausted his funds: Kespohl has $13,000 yet to spend before Tuesday, while Skala had just less than $8,000.

Fourth Ward race

Dudley reported raising a total of $14,500 for his campaign, with an average per-supporter contribution of $250. 

Still, despite collecting only $7,658 — about a third of his last cycle's total — Thomas maintained a comfortable financial advantage. Second only to McDavid, Thomas had gathered about $24,000 by the time his campaign filed the report Monday.

Weitkemper has received a modest $1,200 since January, with $500 of that coming from Citizens Involved and Invested in Columbia. To date, he has raised a little more than $5,700.

Thomas is the only candidate this period to list himself among his contributors. According to the report, Thomas has put $3,233 into his own campaign. His father-in-law, former mayor Darwin Hindman, also donated $1,000. Four of Thomas's 57 contributions came from downtown businesses, with Main Squeeze's donation of $675 the greatest among them.

Dudley, like Kespohl, received $1,000 from Friends of Caleb Jones. His list of contributors also contained several $500 donations from firms in the construction and development businesses. 

One industry veteran, Bob Grove, contributed $500 to Weitkemper. Grove formerly co-owned Little Dixie Construction but retired in 2009. He now owns Grove Construction.

As in fundraising, Thomas led the pack in campaign spending, dropping about $1,100 on a newspaper ad and more than $2,000 on printing. Dudley spent a similar amount on print advertising but had spent another $1,000 for radio time. Meanwhile, Weitkemper spent about $500 to partner with local ad agency Axiom Media.

According the reports, Weitkemper had $2,500 on hand, compared to Thomas' $15,000 and Dudley's $10,000.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.