Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Campaign finance reports: Lies, damn lies, and statistics

Because of a special election in Tempe, candidates for city council there had to file campaign finance reports early.

That has led to some misleading reporting, some cherry-picking of the numbers to try to put a positive spin on things.

So here are the numbers, taken from the summary pages of the reports:

So based on cash on hand, it looks like candidate Matt Papke is doing great with more than $49K on hand, but...

He loaned his own campaign $51K, or more than 77% of his total funds raised.

In other words, he may have more than $49K on hand, but he is $2K (and counting) in the hole personally.  Not a huge issue in itself (he's hardly the first candidate to self-fund); trying to deceive people as to the nature of his funding is an issue - the practice gives possible insight into how he would conduct himself in office if he actually wins.

In contrast, candidate Lauren Kuby, a newcomer to running for office (but not to community, environmental, or political activism), raised more than $41K, with the vast majority (more than 99%) of the money coming from people not named "Lauren Kuby"*.

Otherwise, the numbers reported by the candidates aren't surprising - sitting council members Shana Ellis and Robin Arredondo-Savage had solid fundraising efforts, to be expected from incumbents.  Challengers David Schapira and Dick Foreman had late starts, which shows in their totals this time.  Ernesto Fonseca is a total political newbie and got a late start, with both factors seeming to impact his fundraising so far.

* - Full disclosure time: I am one of the many people who have contributed to Kuby's campaign.

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