By Shawn Raymundo
City council hopefuls have collectively spent nearly $100,000 toward their campaigns for elected office, while just shy of $130,000 in cash contributions have been given to the candidates as of late September, according to the most recent campaign filings.
Based on a review of the pre-election reports filed with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, more than $102,340 in contributions were made to candidates running in the General Election race for the two four-year seats. Just over $27,000 was given to the Special Election candidates vying for the lone two-year council seat.
These contributions don’t include loans the candidates took out, nor non-monetary contributions they received.
As of Sept. 19, the end of the last campaign filing period, Chris Duncan led the pack in monetary contributions, as he reported collecting a total of $42,150 since the start of his campaign.
Behind Duncan was Charlie Smith, who reported a total of $21,500 in cash contributions, followed by incumbent Councilmember Gene James with $16,025. Bill Hart and Aaron Washington trailed behind them with $11,105 and $9,265 in contributions, respectively.
All five of those candidates are running in the General Election.
As for Special Election candidates, Tyler Boden has collected $12,874—more than double the amount his closest competitor, Steven Knoblock, has collected—putting him far ahead of the competition. Knoblock had received $5,845 toward his war chest, while Donna Vidrine reported getting $3,200 in monetary contributions.
Jeff Wellman, a General Election candidate, reported his cash contributions at $2,200. Thor Johnson, another candidate for the four-term, reported $100 in total monetary contributions. Special Election candidates Jerry Quinlan and Zhen Wu filed campaign statements reporting cash contributions of $125 and $14.87, respectively.
All the other candidates either didn’t file campaign statements or reported not receiving any contributions.
Separate contribution reports show that much of large ticket contributions the top candidates have received came from political action committees (PACs) and unions. For instance, the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association made a $2,500 contributions to the campaigns of Duncan, Wellman and Boden.
The California Real Estate PAC gave $1,000 each to the Hart, James and Knoblock campaigns. Both James and Knoblock also received $1,000 contributions from the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.
In the spending column, Smith led the way at the end of September, reporting total expenditures at $17,491. Duncan’s latest expenditure total put him at about $12,913, while Washington was right behind that with about $12,770.
Boden has so far spent nearly $12,463, Hart has spent $11,270, and James spent close to $10,094. As of the filing date, Wellman had reported not spending a single dollar from his $2,200 war chest.
The six other General Election candidates who filed statements last month collectively spent just about $66,700, while the five Special Election candidates who reported spending expended close to $31,000—the bulk of which came from Boden’s coffers.
The deadline for candidates to submit a second pre-election filing with the FPPC is Oct. 22.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.