To finance his campaign for 3rd District supervisor, John Buttny has primarily looked to contributions from friends, environmental groups and prominent figures in local politics.
As of Jan. 17, Buttny had received $50,613 from over 50 individual contributors and spent $33,987 on expenses, including television and print advertising, postage, staff salaries and office space, according to campaign finance records from the Santa Barbara County Elections Division.
In addition to a $5,000 contribution from his wife, Bette Robinson, Buttny also received $500 from former 3rd District Supervisor Bill Wallace, $300 from current supervisor Gail Marshall, $1,000 from the Committee to Support Gail Marshall and $1,000 from Marshall’s staff assistant, Mark Chaconas.
His largest contribution of $19,500 came from the Santa Barbara League of Conservation Voters, the local chapter of the national organization that gives money to candidates it considers pro-environmental.
Buttny also received a $5,000 contribution from Charles Blitz, a longtime friend, philanthropist and the former co-owner of the El Capitan Ranch. In 1998, Blitz was convicted for lying to federal investigators who were looking into illegal funds raised during the campaign of Ron Carey, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union, for who Blitz worked as a fundraiser. Blitz paid a $2,000 fine and was given two years probation.
“He’s one of my fellow convicted felons in this county,” said Buttny, who himself was convicted of five felonies stemming from his involvement in anti-war demonstrations in the late 1960s. “Someone lied to him and he got caught in the middle.”
As opposed to Brooks Firestone, Steve Pappas or Slick Gardner, Buttny said most of his donors see him as the candidate who will protect the 3-2 pro-environmental majority on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
“They see me as the environmental candidate,” he said. “They are a lot of old supporters who have been supporting 3rd District politics for years.”
Susan Rose, 1st District supervisor, and her husband, Allan Ghitterman, an attorney, also donated $1,000 each to Buttny’s campaign. Naomi Schwartz, 2nd District supervisor, donated $200.
Buttny said he has not had a problem raising funds through solicitations from friends and supporters. However, he said running against vintner Brooks Firestone is “certainly a challenge.”
“We’ve never been up against a candidate with this much personal wealth before,” Buttny said. “We’re used to being outspent 2 to 1, and in this case probably 3 to 1. So far I’ve had everything I’ve needed. Every time I’ve needed the money, it’s been there.”