The fun thing about campaign finance reporting is the immense amount of information it can tell about a candidate and his or her relative funding strengths. A look at some of the numbers yesterday revealed that the Cuyahoga County Executive formerly known as Public Official 14 is showing signs of significant struggles.
…of the $600,494 raised overall, only 43% was taken in during the mandatory reporting period of January through June, accounting for just $259,772. That’s half of the $500,000 bar Fitzy & Strickland placed on this campaign. Without the voluntary disclosure of July’s contributions, Fitzy’s report would be beyond laughable. Heck, without the last three days, the report is a joke.
Since July 29th, Fitzy raised 43% of his total take. That’s right: the money the party and other special interests poured into his campaign account in the last three days is equal to the amount he was able to raise on his own in the first six months of the year.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. After looking at the Semiannual Finance Filings from Strickland (2005 & 2009), Kasich (2009 & 2013) and FicksGerald (2013), some interesting figures came to the surface.
Both Strickland & Fitzy inflated their numbers; Kasich’s total spoke for itself
While Kasich disclosed activity as required by law, both Strickland and Fitzy voluntarily revealed their contributions through July. In 2005, that figure accounted for 23.5% of Strickland’s take, growing to a 29.8% in 2009. Fitzy’s July take? That was an astounding 56.7% of his July filing.
Fitzy’s last-minute party money is unprecedented
Neither of Kasich’s July filings included any party money, and Strickland’s 2009 filing included $310,000 (12.4% of his total), after he was the sitting Governor. Not only did the Ohio Democratic Party come in at the last minute, they dropped an astonishing $119,500 on Fitzy—accounting for 19.9% of his entire reporting total.
Fitzy has a big problem motivating donors
Strickland reported a total of 2,136 and 2,837 contributions in 2005 and 2009, respectively. Kasich pulled in 1,755 and 2,756 in 2009 and 2013, respectively. Fitzy’s total of 1,436 comes in lower than any of those; however, what’s even more astonishing is that Fitzy took in just 289 contributions from January to June.
That bears repeating: on his own, Ed Fitzgerald was unable to get even 300 donors in the first six months of his campaign. That’s beyond staggering, and could be a reason why he’s seen so little turnout at his campaign events.
Average Ohioans aren’t buying what Fitzy’s selling
Another indicator of grassroots support is the amount of contributions from low-dollar (less than $100) donors. These tend to be average Ohioans—average voters—putting their hard-earned money behind a candidate they believe in (as opposed to having a union misappropriate their money).
In 2009, Kasich’s July filing showed an impressive 88.3% of his contributions came from low-dollar donors, or a whopping 1,549 total donors. Fitzy reported 76.1% in total for low-dollar donors—admittedly not too bad—but when you look at the January through June numbers, that figure drops to a pitiful 41.5%, or a dismal 120 donors.
When the low-dollar donations aren’t coming in, the average Ohioan isn’t buying into your message. Then again, when the Ohio economy is doing better, jobs are being created left and right and the state budget was restored to fiscal sanity after being taken to the brink, perhaps there just isn’t much for Fitzy to sell, other than partisan bullcrap. And Fitzy’s July filing bears that out.
All of that adds up to some serious bad news for Eddy Fitz—he cannot hope to sustain a drawn-out gubernatorial campaign by artificially inflating his numbers and relying on unprecedented dollars from the state party, while average donors stay on the sidelines.
Huge special interest dollars backing Eddy Fitz
Of course, that leads to the biggest question for a guy already known as Public Official 14: can Ed Fitzgerald be bought and sold by special interests? He’s already trying to beat back the idea that he’s another corrupt Cuyahoga politician (and it’s warranted), not to mention the fact that even liberals call him a “skin-crawling careerist,” but his finance filing isn’t helping him any.
The amount of money Fitzy took from special interests and non-individual donors was incredibly disproportionate to any filing in recent gubernatorial history. We only scratched the surface yesterday, saying that “…contributions from non-individuals (i.e. PAC’s) amounted to just over 7% of Kasich’s total contributions. That’s in stark contrast to Fitzy’s 30%, or even Strickland’s 17% (2009) from PAC’s.”
In fact, Strickland took in 17.4% in his 2005 July filing; Kasich at 6% in 2009. Even as incumbents, Strickland reported 29.5% (2009) and Kasich just 7.2% (2013). Right out of the gate, Fitzy has topped those figures, at 29.9% of his total contributions coming from non-individuals and special interests.
What’s worse, Fitzy appealed to these special interests in the final days of the reporting period, presumably to better inflate his numbers. Of the $179,766.37 reported by Fitzy from non-individuals, over 89% of that came in the month of July, with 87% in the final three days of the month.
All voluntarily reported. All to inflate Fitzy’s numbers. But at what cost?
Fitzy opposed cleaning up the same Cuyahoga County government that he now leads, has been named as “Public Official 14” in legal investigations, and is not trusted by his own council members. Now his first campaign finance filing shows an unusual amount of non-individual contributions, most of which came in at the 11th hour. The narrative couldn’t write itself any worse for the upstart Democrat.
Who’s the candidate that’s bought by special interests? If his checkered past wasn’t evidence enough, campaign finance data shows that it’s Ed FitzGerald.