Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is sitting on a pile of campaign cash, while the fundraising of his chief rival, Jackie Biskupski, seems to be slowing down.
The latest campaign finance reports show Becker with more than four times as much cash as Biskupski ahead of next week's primary election. Becker has nearly $380,000 in the bank to Biskupski's $85,660.
July fundraising numbers showed Biskupski was actually outraising Becker. She pulled in nearly $200,000 while Becker gained $176,000 in donations. Some speculated that Biskupski's fundraising surge was, in part, due to Becker's controversial ouster of former Police Chief Chris Burbank. A recent UtahPolicy.com survey found nearly half of Salt Lake City residents disapproved of the way Becker handled Burbank's firing following a sexual harassment case involving a deputy chief.
That fundraising swell has seemingly slowed down over the last month as Becker slightly outraised Biskupski by about $16,000.
Two of the other candidates in the race, George Chapman, and Dave Robinson raised a tidy sum of cash themselves: $9,111 and $7,311 respectively. Salt Lake City Councilman Luke Garrott finished last in the fundraising sweepstakes, pulling in $4,065. However, Garrott has been limiting donations to his campaign.
Biskupski's campaign was the center of some controversy last month when an independent PAC, Utahns for Independent Government, erected billboards supporting her campaign last month. UtahPolicy.com first reported that the PAC was formed by the owners of Reagan Outdoor Signs, which has been at odds with Mayor Becker for years. The PAC later put up billboards for all of Becker's opponents.
Financial disclosures show UIG raised $124,495 and spent $113,624 during the latest reporting period. Most of that cash came from billboard sign companies. Reagan Outdoor contributed $105,000 while YESCO pumped in another $16,000. Interestingly, former SLC Mayor Rocky Anderson donated $150 to UIG.
Another PAC, Alliance for Better Leadership, coordinated a polling expenditure with Biskupski's campaign. Biskupski lists the in-kind donation at $5,700. However, a financial disclosure statement for AFBL was not available at press time. AFBL failed to register with the city before coordinating the expenditure on behalf of Biskupski's campaign, which is a violation of city election law.
If, as expected, Becker and Biskupski emerge from next week's primary election as the top-two candidates, money could play a major role in whether Becker wins a third term. Certainly he is sitting on a mountain of cash, holding an advantage of more than 4-1 over Biskupski. But the UIG PAC can take unlimited donations and make unlimited expenditures for (or against) a candidate, as long as they do not coordinate that expenditure. If they were able to raise nearly $125,000 in a month, one could surmise that they would be able to spend astonishing amounts of money to defeat Becker.