Originally published in the North Coast Journal
It’s that time again. The latest round of campaign finance disclosure forms have arrived, and the money frenzy reached new heights. By this point, the lines are drawn and the typical players are rallying behind one candidate or another.
In the Fourth District Supervisor race, incumbent Bonnie Neely and contender Virginia Bass broke the $100,000 threshold already, while Fifth District Supe candidate Ryan Sundberg and District Attorney incumbent Paul Gallegos are just about there themselves.
Overall, most expenditures have focused on television and radio advertising. To date, all candidates have spent collectively at least $200,000 to that end. It is also worth noting that Blue Lake Rancheria has contributed an astounding $62,000 to-date to a variety of candidates, making them the largest benefactor in this election cycle, followed by Bill Pierson’s Sedgefield Properties with $15,000.
Fifth District Supervisor
Ryan Sundberg ($41,408 in monetary and non-monetary donations raised this cycle; $97,675 total) maintains his financial superiority in the Fifth District race. He received eight contributions of $1,000 or more this time: $1,500 from North Coast Fabricators, Harvey Harper Co., Lundblade & Co. and the Humboldt Builders’ Exchange PAC, along with $1,000 bumps from Jackie Saunderson (St. Joseph’s Hospital nurse), Harry Hardin (Eel River Disposal), Ellen Mora (Humboldt Auction Yard) and Dennis Wendt River Walk Property.
Sundberg has spent a good deal of his money on advertising — about $30,000. He has, interestingly enough, stayed clear of any radio advertising according to his disclosures, but he spent about $17,000 in television ad production and airtime, while also publishing ads in many local print publications, including the Two Rivers Tribune, Senior News and the Journal. Aside from advertising, Sundberg spent about $10,000 in salaries.
Patrick Cleary ($43,567 this cycle; $63,624 total) was the largest cash-earner of all the candidates this time, yet he is nowhere near Sundberg in funding. The most eye-widening contribution comes from the Blue Lake Rancheria, who hooked Cleary up this cycle to the tune of $15,000 ($20,000 total). Bill Pierson-owned Sedgefield Properties dropped $5,000, North Coast Horticultural Supply gave $3,000 and the Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff’s Organization threw down $1,500. Cleary continues to gain financial support from Humboldt State employees, lawyers and medical professionals, while also garnering contributions from several local businesses, including Cypress Grove and Los Bagels.
Most of Cleary’s expenses went toward advertising and consulting, spending $22,980 with J. Garland Communications for television and radio advertising while also dropping $17,857 with Sacramento-based Duffy & Capitilo for consulting services. But it appears, based on the disclosures, that Cleary’s advertising strategy is primarily focused on television and radio.
Compared to Cleary and Sundberg, Higgins only raised quarters ($6,113 this cycle; $13,357 total) and he even threw in a few of his own — $2,000 this cycle. Higgins also stated he wasn’t planning on being active on the fundraising front. Most of his contributions were $100 to $250, except for three $500 ones that he got from his business partner William Keir, Danny Hagans (a geologist consultant from McKinleyville) and Greg Blomstrom, a professional forester from Fieldbrook. Overall, many of his contributions came from experts in the fisheries and natural sciences field.
As opposed to Cleary, Higgins’ primary advertising blitz has been centered on print ads, mainly in Econews, Senior News and the Two Rivers Tribune, to the tune of $1,109. That said, Higgins appears to be spending heavily on campaign brochures and literature — a total of $4,056 this cycle, mainly through Sirius Studios.
Jeff Lytle was serious when he said he wasn’t raising a dime. And he hasn’t. But he is spending out his pocket, making him the only candidate to truly not take one donation from anyone, except for a $500 loan last cycle from his company.
Fourth District Supervisor
There was a big commotion by opponents of Bonnie Neely ($42,487 this cycle; $113,080 total) about a fundraiser held in Sacramento back in April. There was this expectation that she would draw in untold amounts of cash from out-of-area interests, like the $10,000 contribution last cycle from Dana Point-based developer MPDSE, Inc.
Of the 36 reported contributions this time around, 13 were from outside of Humboldt County. The largest of these were $1,500 from Thomas DeArth, a hydrologist from Ripon, Calif.; $1,000 from Congressman Mike Thompson’s and Wes Chesbro’s campaigns; Steven and Gillian Foster of Venice (Lucky Strike Entertainment); and M. Keith and Cynthia Wadell of Half Moon Bay (Robert Half International). Her largest contribution this cycle was $4,500 from Dee Atkins, manager of Ocean West in McKinleyville.
Neely has spent most of her cash this cycle on advertising and consulting. She paid Sacramento-based Duffy & Capitilo $7,500 for continued consulting services, as well as about $5,300 on salaries. Neely’s advertising strategy is primarily focused on radio and television ads, and she spent $17,527 with Action Media, based out of San Francisco, to that end. She also paid Times-Standard photojournalist Shaun Walker $450 for freelance photography services.
Jeff Leonard ($6,826 this cycle; $17,222 total) appears to have stayed true to his campaign promise of not relying on special interest money. That said, he did gain $1,500 from one Paul Shoen of Glenbrook, Nev. — his largest contribution — along with $650 from Ruth Robertson,of Bayside. He is also floating $2,350 in loans and gained almost half of his cash through small contributions ($1,607).
Leonard has adopted a unique strategy for advertising: paying Google Adwords $514 for ranking, so when you type in “Bonnie Neely,” an ad for his website is the first to pop up. Other expenditures include $300 for consulting through Campaign Communications; $677 to Scrapper’s Edge in Eureka; $667 to Times Printing for campaign literature; and $448 to Shirt Shoppe in Eureka for those yellow Leonard shirts you may have seen around.
Virginia Bass ($42,292 this cycle; $119,781 total) pulled in the most cash of all the Fourth District Supe candidates this cycle, and she also has the largest war chest of not only her competitors but all candidates in all races. She earned seven contributions of $1,000 or more this cycle: $4,000 from the Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff’s Organization, $1,499 from Lundblade & Co., and $1,000 bumps from Dennis Wendt Riverwalk Property, Sicily Benzinger (St. Joseph’s Hospital Nurse), Jackie Saunderson (also a St. Joe’s nurse), Eilenn Mora (Fortuna farmer), and Harry Hardin (President of Eel River Disposal). She continues to gain much of her financial support from the business community and even garnered $100 from local philanthropist Betty Chin.
Bass spent large amounts of cash on advertising, primarily in the television area, to the tune of $47,236. The largest expenditures, all of which are ad-related, were Eureka-based Sainte Partners ($8,575), Suddenlink Communications ($7,686.80), Times Printing ($7,400.32), KIEM ($5,448.50), and the Times-Standard ($4,954.80).
Allison Jackson ($46,262 this cycle; $59,936 total) got a few hefty sponsors this time: $6,500 from the Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff’s Organization, $4,125 from Harry Hardin (Eel River Disposal), $1,500 from Kenneth Quigley (father of deceased Nicole Quigley), $1,000 from Jackie Sunderson (St. Joseph’s Hospital nurse), $975 from Nancy Cavanaugh (VP of Miranda’s Rescue), and, perhaps most noteworthy, $500 from former DA candidate Worth Dikeman.
Paul Hagen ($16,045 this cycle; $42,392 total) took out a $16,000 personal loan, bringing his person contribution to $21,200. A relative, Lillian Hagen, also gave him $10,000 this time. Factoring in all other contributions, the vast majority of his funding comes from outside of Humboldt County. Another notable contribution this cycle is $1,000 from Thomas DeArth, a hydrologist from Ripon, Calif.
It’s clear that Paul Gallegos ($57,517 this cycle; $95,959 total) is the biggest breadwinner of the DA race. His campaign went on a funding offense this cycle, garnering 13 contributions of $1,000 or more. The largest givers were two tribes — Blue Lake Rancheria and Bear River Band of Rohnerville — for $10,000 each. Other large contributers include Richard Cogwell and Ester Saunoras ($5,000 each), Northcoast Horticulture Supply ($3,000), Humboldt Wholesale Inc. ($3,000) and Roy Hanson Inc. ($2,500).
Despite the immense earnings, Gallegos still took out a $10,000 loan from his wife, Joan Gallegos, and still has an outstanding loan of $20,000 from a relative in Flordia.
Mike Downey ($52,082 this cycle; $78,478 total) still maintains his financial support from the law enforcement community, but he also earned some cash from other places. His top contributer this campaign was the Blue Lake Rancheria for $5,000, followed by $3,000 from the Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff’s Organization, and $1,305 from Gwen and Steve Morris (owners of Morris Logging). He also earned a third of his cash — a staggering $11,910 – from small contributions.
Mike Hislop ($7,602 this cycle; $29,164 total) earned a third of his cash this cycle from small contributions. He received three contributions over $500: $1,000 from Deborah Flint (retired, of McKinleyville), and $500 from both the Hoopa Tribe and Sonia Bauer (mother of Harbor Commissioner Mike Wilson).
Johanna Rodoni ($38,403 this cycle; $59,876 total) continues to lead in money raised for the Assessor race. She, like Downey, racked in a large sum of cash from small contributions — $13,598. She also received large contributions from Harry Hardin of Eel River Disposal ($2,250), Humboldt Tea Party organizer Dorice Miranda ($900), Wendt Construction ($900) and Sequoia Gas Co. ($850).
Jon Brooks ($29,297 this cycle; $35,892 total) didn’t plan on running a heavily funded campaign, but after seeing Rodoni’s influx of cash last cycle he had to break a few of his own rules. He gained a score of $100 or so contributions, but the big cash came from the Blue Lake Rancheria ($10,000), Dr. Ken Miller ($540), Clotille and Warren Brooks, of Gresham, OR ($500 each), the Hoopa Valley Tribe ($500), Buck Mt. Ranch ($500), I.M. Brock, of Hoopa ($500) and Patrick Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Markets ($500).
Mari Wilson ($2,960 this cycle; $20,642 total), the second-in-command in the Assessor’s Office, isn’t raising much cash, but she has dropped a whopping $6,367 of her own money into her campaign. She also took out a loan from her husband, Craig Wilson, to the tune of $5,000. The only large contribution she got was from Erik Larsen, who works for Renner Petroleum, for $500.