With the election a week from today, monetary contributions are still pouring into the 3rd District supervisor campaigns of Brooks Firestone and John Buttny.
During the last reporting period, campaign finance records from the Santa Barbara County Elections Division show that Buttny collected $94,067 between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14, surpassing Firestone, who took in $87,802 during the same period. However, the records show that overall, Firestone has outspent Buttny nearly 3-to-1.
As of Feb. 14, Firestone has received a total of $481,190 from almost 600 individual contributors and has spent a total of $393,088. Buttny has received a total of $144,680 from almost 200 contributors, including a $5,000 loan to himself, since Feb. 14 and has spent a total $130,463.
Buttny’s largest contribution to date, $15,000, came from the Services Employees International Union Local 620, the Central Coast chapter of California’s largest labor union with over 500,000 members total. Firestone received several $3,000 contributions, one coming from the Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriffs Association.
Buttny said he plans to have spent around $225,000 on his campaign prior to the March 2 election. He also said Firestone has been dishonest regarding his receipt of campaign contributions from local landlords – a group from which both candidates have pledged not to accept money.
“He lied at the forum in I.V.,” Buttny said. “He said he wouldn’t take money from landlords – he said it onstage.”
Finance records show Firestone’s campaign did receive a total of $7,350 from 11 local landlords, property managers and developers, but Ken Poole, Firestone’s campaign manager, said all of that money has either already been refunded or is in the process of being refunded since it was accepted in error.
Firestone’s campaign finance records show he refunded a $500 contribution from Charles Eckert III, a local landlord, but did not refund any other money as of Feb. 14. Poole said he e-mailed the campaign’s accountant on Monday to have the remaining donations refunded.
“Eighty percent of unacceptable money gets head off at the pass,” Poole said. “We politely send it back.”
Poole said the Friends of Firestone campaign has also declined around $75,000 in contributions from other individuals connected to oil companies, property management and real estate developers in order to avoid the appearance of being obligated to special interests.
“I hate to insult somebody by asking, ‘Would you please not contribute money?'” Firestone said. “It’s a tricky thing to do.”
Firestone said he has not been doing a lot of fund-raising events but is impressed with the amount of monetary support his campaigned has garnered.
“It’s really quite amazing,” Firestone said. “[Raising money has] been much easier than when I ran for assembly. I think there are more issues that people feel strongly about.”
Buttny and Firestone both said they have not changed their fund-raising strategies as time until the election dwindles. They have primarily focused on soliciting money from core groups of friends and individuals that have supported them in the past.
The two other candidates running for 3rd District, Steve Pappas and Slick Gardner, have not received or spent nearly the amount of cash moved back and forth by the Buttny and Firestone campaigns.
According to records from the Santa Barbara County Elections Division, Pappas received $10,010 between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14, and has received $39,289.97 in contributions overall from fewer than 20 donors. He has spent a total of $38,513.23.
Pappas could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
Gardner, whose campaign finance records for the first reporting period were blank, still listed no contributions or expenditures on behalf of his campaign through Feb. 14.