By Roger Bloom | NB Indy
During Watergate, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were advised by their super-secret source, Deep Throat, to “follow the money.”
And so it is with political campaigns.
Tuesday was the deadline for City Council candidates to file their campaign finance statements for the period July 1-Sept. 30, and a look at those documents may provide some insight into the respective campaigns.
The most competitive and closely watched race is in the city’s 3rd District, where Rush Hill and Ed Reno are vying to replace Councilman Don Webb, who cannot run again because of term limits.
Hill’s report shows that he’s sitting on a pot of cash-on-hand that totals $67,440, having taken in just shy of $20,000 in cash and in-kind contributions in the period to add to the $30,000-plus in contributions and $50,000 loan from himself that the campaign received in the previous reporting period.
Hill’s contributors include several prominent Newport Beach citizens, ranging from former Mayor Bus Turner to developer Bill Lusk to former Councilwoman Jean Watt. Only one of his contributors, Marriott International, pitched in the $1,000 maximum.
Hill spent a bit more than $19,000 in the period, half of that – $9,500 – for a poll of the city that proved controversial when some of those surveyed reported that it tried to tie Reno to animal testing by his employer, drug maker Allergan Inc. He also paid $2,000 to Powers Communications, the campaign consultants who oversaw the poll.
The rest of Hill’s spending went mainly for signs and for ads in local newspapers.
Meanwhile, Reno reported receiving somewhat more than $15,000 in contributions and winding up the period with $11,000 and change still in the bank.
Several of Reno’s contributors provided the $1,000 maximum: Newport Beach homemaker Alexandra Airth; Industry-based Athens Services; Michael Bozick, president of Indian Wells-based Bagdasarian Inc.; the California Biomedical Industry PAC; Kevin McCarthy for Congress committee (McCarthy is the Republicans’ deputy whip in the House); and Andrew Struve, a litigator with a specialty in healthcare at the firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
Reno was a more active spender in the period, burning through $33,000-plus. And the expenditures hint at a different strategy from Hill’s.
Reno paid $4,000 to California Voter Guide, $1,200 to Citizens for Good Government, $1,000 to COPS Voter Guide, and $400 to Democratic Voters Choice – all for inclusion in “endorsement” lists mailed to voters in the days leading up to the election.
The expenditure for inclusion is the Democratic Voters Choice mailing is notable, as Reno has been touting his endorsements from the county and state Republican parties and prominent Republican officeholders and leaders, including former Gov. Pete Wilson.
Reno has also spent upwards of $4,500 on signs, but nothing for newspaper advertising as yet.
He also paid $5,000 to Delta Partners, the consulting firm of David Ellis.