COLUMBIA — Fundraising in this year's round of Columbia City Council elections is breaking records. Two of the six candidates seeking seats on the council raised more than $70,000 for their campaigns, and another came within $600 of reaching that unprecedented benchmark.

The candidates were required to file the latest round of campaign finance reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission on Monday, eight days before the April 5 municipal election.

Fourth Ward candidate Daryl Dudley, who is no longer campaigning for that position, reported raising the most money at $73,899. That amount, however, includes $50,000 from Citizens for a Better Columbia and $10,000 from the Central Missouri Development Council, much of which he has promised to return because it was improperly reported.

In the contest for mayor, Brian Treece reported raising $70,612. He collected $16,370 of that after Feb. 20. He had $6,214 left in his campaign report as of March 24.

Treece's opponent, Skip Walther, reported raising $69,407. Of that, $18,061 had come since Feb. 20. He reported having $15,926 remaining.

All three of those campaigns broke the previous high for fundraising in a Columbia City Council race. Bob McDavid raised $61,624 for his first mayoral bid in 2010.

Treece continued to rack up significant donations from labor unions. The Operating Engineers Local 101 PAC of Kansas City gave his campaign $5,000, as did the International Association of Firefighters' FIREPAC. The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police chipped in $1,000. 

Walther's campaign reported no contributions greater than $1,000. Since his last report was filed, Walther had received $1,000 donations each from Aaron Smith of the A.W. Smith Law Firm, Tom Smith of Flat Branch Pub and Brewery, Shelter Mutual Insuance Co. and John Beshears. 

In the Third Ward, Karl Skala had raised a total of $19,988, including $3,875 during the most recent period, according to his report. He had $3,174 left to work with. His largest contribution, $500, came from his daughter, Sarah Skala, a police officer in Columbus, Ohio.

Skala's opponent, Tom Leuther, had raised $18,921, including $4,095 since Feb. 20. He had $7,060 left. His largest donation was $500 from Troy Miller of Troy Miller Properties, LLC.

In the Fourth Ward, Thomas reported raising $27,842 for his campaign. Of that, $6,235 had come since Feb. 20. He had $7,118 left to spend. All of Thomas's donations were less than $1,000. The biggest chunk, $900, came from himself.

As for Thomas's opponent, there was no evidence in Dudley's report that he had returned any of the money from Citizens for a Better Columbia or the Central Missouri Development Council, which he said he would do last week just before he announced he would suspend his campaign operations. Under state law, candidates have 48 hours to report any donation that exceeds $5,000, but the large contributions from those two groups weren't reported until a week or more after they were received.

Dudley’s lawyer, Phebe La Mar, declined to comment Monday on the campaign's plans to return the money. She said in a statement last week that Dudley's campaign plans to pull advertising purchased with the misreported donations and had asked its media agency to return money to the campaign from the ads that were canceled. The campaign will not get its money back for fees associated with the agency's work or the ads that had already run.

Thomas's campaign treasurer, Richard King, filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission on March 21 about the improper reporting by Dudley's campaign. James Klahr, executive director of the commission, however, said it does not accept complaints filed within 15 days of an election.

Klahr noted on Monday that the latest reports cover campaign activities through March 24. Dudley's campaign, then, could have returned some of the money in question in recent days but not yet reported that.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

  • I grew up in Waynesboro, Virginia. In 2012, I made the decision to attend MU, and I'm currently majoring in journalism. Public Life reporting team, spring 2016 Reach me at allisongraves@mizzou.edu, or on my cell at (540) 836-8951

  • Public life reporter. Graduate student in computer assisted and investigative reporting. Reach me at blchf7@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720. Tweet me at @brittcrocker.

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