IA-03: First-quarter fundraising news roundup (updated)

Yesterday was the deadline for Congressional candidates to file quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission. Because so many candidates are running for Congress this year in Iowa, I'm breaking up these posts by district rather than doing a statewide roundup.

After the jump I've enclosed highlights from the first-quarter fundraising and spending reports of Democratic candidate Staci Appel and the six Republicans seeking the GOP nomination in the third district. Spoiler alert: one of the GOP candidates is still carrying debt from a previous campaign.

I also added details below on what retiring ten-term Representative Tom Latham is doing with his substantial war chest.

Let's start with Latham's report. His first-quarter filing shows no money raised, $128,513.67 in returned contributions, and $34,531.48 in other spending (mostly paying bills for services rendered in late 2013). Latham's campaign had $580,694.50 cash on hand as of March 31. I wonder what he's planning to do with all that money. His itemized disbursements show a $97,500 transfer to the National Republican Congressional Committee, $5,000 to the Republican National Committee, a total of $4,000 to Representative Mike Simpson's re-election campaign in Idaho, $3,500 to the Pioneer Political Action Committee affiliated with Representative Patrick Tiberi of Ohio, and $1,000 to help Kim Schmett retire debt from his 2008 campaign against Leonard Boswell in IA-03. (Incidentally, Schmett is still carrying more than $11,000 in debt from that race. Fiscal responsibility!)

Unchallenged for the Democratic nomination, Appel had another solid fundraising quarter. Her FEC filing shows $261,083.22 in net contributions during the first three months of this year, comparable to the $238,877.03 she raised during the third quarter of 2013 and her haul of $260,697.66 during the fourth quarter. Between January 1 and March 31, Appel raised $206,583.22 from individuals and $57,000.00 from political action committees. If I'm reading her itemized contribution page correctly, I think many of those "PAC" donations are actually individual contributions earmarked for her campaign through ActBlue or EMILY's List. (I saw the same phenomenon on Jim Mowrer's FEC report in IA-04.)

For a candidate with no competition in the Democratic primary, Appel's burn rate seems high: $160,165.18 in spending during the first quarter. I didn't see any outlandish expenditures on this page, just a mix of the usual campaign expenses. As of March 31, Appel had $470,416.52 cash on hand. She will go into the general election campaign with a head start financially, but regardless of who wins the GOP nomination, IA-03 will be an expensive race.

On to the Republican candidates. Six qualified for the primary ballot, but I'm discounting Des Moines teacher and business owner Joe Grandanette as a serious competitor. I don't see any report from him on the FEC's website, or for that matter, many signs of life from his campaign.

Taking the others in alphabetical order, most have raised enough cash to run some kind of district-wide campaign before the primary. Robert Cramer reported raising $167,653.00 during the first quarter, all from individuals. There appears to be a mistake on his report, though, because the itemized list of donations includes $5,000 from the Iowa Construction Industry PAC. In any event, most of the donations came from Iowa residents. Cramer also loaned his own campaign $45,000, bring total receipts up to $212,653.

Cramer reported spending $133,916.68 during the first quarter. The largest expense was $50,000 for a media buy. Cramer was the first IA-03 candidate to run television commercials. As of March 31, his campaign had $78,736.32 cash on hand.

Monte Shaw was the fundraising leader in the GOP field, reporting $203,937.09 in contributions during the first quarter. Shaw raised $165,156.34 from individuals (most from Iowa but quite a few from out of state, including the lobbyist-heavy community of Arlington, Virginia. Shaw took in $38,780.75 from political action committees in the agricultural or energy sectors. Incidentally, I wonder if there's any ethical issue with Shaw receiving a $5,000 campaign contribution from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association PAC when his day job is being executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Shaw's campaign spent just $35,491.45 during the first quarter. The biggest expenses were payroll and consulting. He ended the reporting period with $168,445.64 cash on hand. Shaw's already running radio ads and will be able to afford television before the primary.

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz raised more money during a few months as a Congressional candidate than he did for his entire 2010 statewide campaign. His FEC filing shows $170,949.57 in contributions, including $158,575.71 from individuals and $12,373.86 from PACs. Most of Schultz's donors live in Iowa, and many are from Council Bluffs, where he served on the city council before running for secretary of state. Donors who maxed out ($2,600 contributions) include Nick Ryan, founder of the 501(c)4 American Future Fund and one of the leading conduits of "dark money" in Iowa, and Bruce Rastetter, the original financier of the American Future Fund. The American Future Fund PAC also gave $3,150 in kind to the campaign (paying for survey research). Other big names in the Iowa GOP business community who maxed out to Schultz: Denny Elwell and his wife Candy Elwell, along with Gary Kirke. Rick Santorum's Patriot Voices PAC donated only $723.86 in kind for e-mail communication. Several large contributions listed as coming from political action committees came from individuals who earmarked their donations through the Senate Conservatives Fund.

Schultz spent $34,304.26 during the reporting period on typical expenses. As of March 31, his campaign had $136,645.31 cash on hand. But five donors contributed $2,600 for both the primary and the general election campaigns, which means that $13,000 of what Schultz has raised so far can't be spent until after June 3. If he loses the primary, he must return those funds. Still, he should have enough money for district-wide direct mail and advertising.

David Young went into the IA-03 campaign with a head start, because he was able to transfer funds raised for his U.S. Senate bid last year, and he loaned his campaign $50,000. He started the quarter with $133,736.47 cash on hand, then raised $78,081.29 during the first quarter. That money included $10,896.26 from the candidate himself, $58,685.03 from other individuals, and $8,500 from corporate PACs. Young took in quite a few donations from people living in the Washington, DC area, which is not surprising for a career Congressional staffer.

Finally, we have State Senator Brad Zaun. Earlier this year, he told a Republican blogger that he had paid off debt from his 2010 campaign in IA-03. However, the FEC filing for that committee still shows $22,987.69 in debts and obligations, mostly owed to Victory Enterprises. That Iowa-based consulting firm is doing work for Monte Shaw in the current campaign.

Zaun won the crowded 2010 primary despite being outspent by Jim Gibbons, the establishment favorite. To get a second chance as the GOP nominee, he'll have to repeat that feat against several better-financed candidates. Zaun's new campaign reported raising just $56,746.00 during the first quarter. Most of Zaun's contributors live in Iowa; the exceptions include Republican loudmouth Dick Morris and David Polyansky, who was a consultant for Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign. Zaun was one of Bachmann's leading surrogates in Iowa before the 2012 caucuses. Donors who maxed out included former Iowa Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley and his wife. One of Zaun's obscure rivals from the 2010 GOP primary, Pat Bertroche, kicked in $2,000.

Zaun's campaign spent $10,203.22, leaving $46,542.78 cash on hand as of March 31. He will need more money than that if he wants to run a significant amount of ads on radio or television. In February, his campaign released a slick online video. I laugh when hear him promise "not to pass on this debt to my children or yours." I guess it's ok to pass debt onto Victory Enterprises indefinitely, though.

Any comments about the IA-03 race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Regarding Zaun's poor fundraising, a couple of other points are worth noting. Since 2005 he has represented one of the wealthiest Iowa Senate districts, containing some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the Des Moines metro area. Before that he was mayor of Urbandale. How does a Republican in that territory fail to raise a significant amount of money?

Second, Zaun's reported expenditures during the first quarter are suspiciously low, as Craig Robinson commented on April 17:

Zaun's fundraising report showed only three expenditures - two to a wedding planner in Nashville, Tennessee who is raising money for his campaign, and the other to Ryan Keller, his campaign manager.

It's somewhat unbelievable that Zaun would only have expenditures to two entities in a campaign that started two months ago.  Further more, Zaun's campaign released an impressive web video, which was filmed at his campaign announcement.  There was an entire film crew at Zaun's campaign announcement, yet nowhere in Zaun's report is there an expenditure or in-kind contribution for their services. Zaun's report also shows that his campaign doesn't have any outstanding debt.  Something doesn't add up.

Of all the candidates in the race, Zaun is the most known, and his 2010 campaign should have provided him with an existing donor file that he could solicit for his 2014 campaign.

I've been saying this for months: why would GOP donors or activists want to give a second chance to a guy who couldn't beat Leonard Boswell in the biggest Republican landslide of my lifetime?

SECOND UPDATE: Here's an amusing walk down memory lane, from the Des Moines Register January 30 report on Zaun's campaign kickoff event.

"I'm going to do some things differently this time," Zaun said Tuesday at his kickoff event at a muffler manufacturing plant in Clive.

With his family gathered behind him, he said, "I'm not going to let these dirty tactics and political attacks on me go (unanswered). I'm not going to let them be out there and not respond to them. I'm smarter this time. I go in this with my eyes wide open."

Zaun, a 51-year-old father of five, said he knows he'll be more relaxed this time. "I was certainly very intimidated last time around," he told reporters. And he's more determined. "Gosh darn it, we have got to send someone out to D.C. to make tough decisions and not worry about their re-election," he said.

He can't blame "dirty tactics and political attacks" for the fact that Republicans are looking elsewhere.

Login or Join to comment and post.