Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Campaign Financial Reports Oddly Telling

Hey, there's interesting news at the Fitchburg Pride!

Seems that campaign spending reports are in and there are a mess of numbers to look through! Sadly, I don't have access to the actual reports so we'll just have to take the Pride's word on stuff. [Update 12:15 pm: thanks to Jason of the FP for some additional data I'm working in now.]

How's it break down? Sort of like this:
  • Tom Donnelly:
    • $17,980 raised, which includes $5,000 of his own money. So that's $12,980 from people who aren't Tom Donnelly.
    • $5,940 of that's from out-of-town donors.
    • Has $7,345 cash on hand.
    • "Donnelly is also carrying about $20,000 in liabilities in the form of loans. Included with the loan from this year are a number of loans dating back to 1999 from Donnelly to the campaign that have not been repaid."

  • Lisa Wong:
    • $14,409 raised. $500 (the maximum personal contribution) of it her own, which puts her at $13,909 otherwise. That means she's the biggest money-raiser when we eliminate candidates' donations to themselves.
    • $7,074 of that is from out-of-town.
    • $3,091 cash on hand.
    • No report of any debts.

  • Ted DeSalvatore:
    • "Just south of $11,000" raised, from "13 individual donors." I presume none of it is his money.
    • The Pride doesn't tell us how much of that is out-of-town, but I'm betting a bunch is. [Update: Jason from the pride indicates $1,800 from out-of-town donors.]
    • Zero cash on hand, because he has...
    • $6,077 in unpaid bills. Ouch!

  • Ron Dionne:
    • No money raised.
    • No money spent.
    • Oh, he did get two in-kind donations of printer ink cartridges, for $120.68.

There's also mention of who gave money to Donnelly and Wong, both getting reasonable support from local bigshots who I don't care to go over here. Ted's report is rather more confusing, as:
DeSalvatore's report details only 13 individual donors. Law requires details accounting for only donors who give more than $200. The report lumps together fundraising from three events over the last year -- $1,575 from a "Thank You Party" held before DeSalvatore was officially a candidate, $1,429 from a "Heartbeat Dinner Dance," and $2,370 from a "Gold Rush BBQ."
Mind you, Donnelly and Wong both reported on lower-money donors. I guess Ted's treasurer isn't big on record keeping, or public disclosure of relevant information.

Additionally, even if we remove the three big events, Ted's left with about $5,500 in donations from just 13 donors (I think. This would be easier with the raw data and not just the incomplete Pride reporting.). [Update: Jason at FP thinks there was another "clump of unlisted, random donations" as well.] It would appear he has some interested parties throwing decent chunks of money at him. Pity for them that he can't seem to follow a damn budget and is six grand in the red. Did he learn nothing from his own bankruptcy filing earlier in life?

This is actually quite an interesting report, particularly when you consider the town's fiscal mismanagement in the past and the currently miserable state of its finances.

Wong is apparently the only candidate who's capable of working with money and not going into the red. Plus she's pretty good at raising it. Moneybags Donnelly has his own money to throw around, but he still has twenty grand in liabilities (though he does at least have cash on hand). DeSalvatore has six grand in liabilities, and no cash on hand. Perhaps he should stop it with the fucking signs already. Dionne has no real campaign and simply has a printer with expensive ink cartridges. I wonder which of these four candidates would be better at dealing with the town's budget?

It's no surprise that Donnelly raised a good chunk of change. The guy's been here forever and is very much the "establishment" candidate. Plus he has his own money to throw around. Why he still has twenty grand in liabilities and can't repay eight-year-old loans is beyond me, but certainly doesn't give me a good feeling about his ability to manage finances.

DeSalvatore's report is just weird. He doesn't report on the small contributions, has no cash on hand, and has six thousand dollars in unpaid bills. Incidentally, $5,000 of those are (indirectly) to his campaign manager, who I suspect probably won't send him to collections. Of course, I believe $5,000 is quite a bit higher than the maximum campaign contribution allowed, so surely he'll be collecting on that bill at some point. Right?

Either way, Ted spent more money than he had. A lot more money than he had. During the debate, he said his qualification for handling the city's $95 million budget was "common sense." While that's ridiculous in itself, this goes on to indicate that his "common sense" is incredibly bad. Basically, if he ran the city budget the way he runs his campaign budget, he'd spend $173 million and have a deficit of $78 million. Criminy!

Dionne has no campaign, obviously. But his report does raise the issue of how printer ink is ridiculously expensive, so I guess that's something. He's bringing light to important issues!

I think the pretty obvious choice here if you care about the city's finances is to vote for Wong. It looks more and more like the race is going to come down to her and Donnelly anyway, which would be a very nice thing as far as I'm concerned.


JustSayNoToDeSalvo said...

Viewing the limited information available at the Pride - which is a heck of a lot better than no information we might add - raises other questions.

Did DeSalvatore bother to report cash contributions?

What is he living on?

Who is paying for all those new suits?

Who is paying for the exterior renovations to his home?

brian said...

Ted will attempt to spin the lack of significant donations to the fact that "regular" folk give what they can and he cobbled together his campaign with money from "average" citizens...making him the peoples candidate.

Donna said...

Anyone with way too much time on their hands or voracious readers can get the campaign finance details on the state website by looking for the campaign finance kit for local party committees.

The limit for aggregate cash contributions is $50. All others must be by personal check and the donor must be identified along with their address.

Jason said...


Feel free to run this as a comment, or update as you see fit. Or totally ignore it. Hopefully this helps out some.

To answer a few of your questions:

Wong gave herself the maximum personal contribution, $500.

I don't think DeSalvo make any contributions to his campaign. Certainly nothing over that $500 limit.

We found $1,800 in out-of-town contributions to DeSalvatore. However, $1,000 were in two donations from city business owners who live out of town, so view that how you want.

We were under the gun with DeSalvatore. They filed last minute, and while Clerk Anna Farrell was fantastic yesterday afternoon, there's only so much you can do before you start to feel bad for her. That said, and I didn't take any notes on this and don't clearly remember, I think there was another clump of unlisted, random donations. That amount would fill in the gap. Obviously, there would have to be. To be kind of non-factual here: The DeSalvatore report was lacking for a lot of detail. Not that it was illegal or anything, but with that short list of individual donors and the rolling up of the event donations, it's tough to get deep insight on what's going on.

Thanks for reading.

1970s Abraham Lincoln said...

If I were trying to obscure my fundraising sources, I can think of no better way than to hold events with a cash cover charge. There's absolutely no way of accounting for the number of people present, who actually paid or how much. Did 237 people really attend the "Gold Rush BBQ" at $10/head?

The Unicow said...


Thanks for the additional figures! I'll update the post accordingly.

Did you differentiate between city business owners living out of town and plain old out-of-towners for Donnelly and Wong? If not, I see no reason to do so for DeSalvatore.

Jason said...


I didn't. Part of that goes back to the time crunch and DeSalvo coming in late. It was also a lot more obvious in 13 individual donations, over the 140-something Donnelly had. Sorry.

The Unicow said...

No worries, Jason. Just wanted to be consistent.

RomanAedile said...

Speaking of cash event fundraisers, I don't think Ted should be asking military personnel to show up in uniform. Political events in uniform is a strict no-no. And it is cynical and disingenuious for Ted to have them there clearly have himself photographed with.

The Unicow said...

Is he really doing that? Yikes!

Even I (almost totally ignorant of the military and related matters) know that's forbidden!

Hey, maybe that's what Ted got busted down for all those years back.

RomanAedile said...

Check the thing he calls a website. He says his Blues band cookout is inviting military in uniform.

The Unicow said...

Holy crap! That's no good.

I hope no veterans make the mistake of showing up in uniform, and I certainly hope none get their pictures taken that way.

It's pretty sleazy to offer free admission to "veterans in uniform" in the first place. Clearly he cares more about the uniform than the person inside it.

JustSayNoToDeSalvo said...

the one horned wonder stated "Clearly he cares more about the uniform than the person inside it."

He certainly didn't care much about it when he was wearing it.


ReallyRachel said...

I went to http://www.mass.gov/ocpf/ but the Fitchburg mayoral candidates' reports are not online. I suppose the databases won't be updated until after the primary?

Has anyone obtained a copy from the city clerk that can be scanned in and posted?