Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Who is funding the 2023 Nashville mayoral race?

by Rod Williams, July 30, 2023- The Tennessean has done an excellent job reporting on who is funding the various candidates for mayor. You have to have a subscription to The Tennessean to access the article, but you can find it at this link: On the campaign trail: Who is funding the 2023 Nashville mayoral race?

The biggest player seems to be A Better Tomorrow which is a PAC financed by Southwest Value Partners, whose properties include Nashville Yards, Grand Hyatt Nashville, and Union Station Hotel. A Better Tomorow contributed $2,500 each to Heidi Campbell, Jim Gingrich (who has suspended his campaign), Freddie O'Connell, Matt Wiltshire, and Jeff Yarbro. A Better Tomorow also contributed $100,000 to "A Better Nashville," a PAC tied to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and John Ingram that contributed more than $200,000 to various candidates for the Metro Council.

Freddie O'Connell is the front runner in the race for mayor.  This is what The Tennessean says about his campaign fundraising: 

O'Connell has received at least $12,500 from six PACs, with the top three contributions coming from Waller Lansden PAC ($5,000), A Better Tomorrow ($2,500) and $2,000 each from Gresham Smith PAC and Tennessee Laborers' PAC.

O'Connell also saw second-quarter contributions from other elected officials' PACs and campaign accounts, including $1,100 from Venick for Council Campaign, $500 from Sandra Sepulveda for Council, $500 from Bill Beck for State Rep and $250 from Friends of Sheri Weiner.

Among O'Connell's contributions from LLCs and businesses are The Johnny Cash Museum ($1,800), an LLC connected to Nudie's Honky Tonk ($1,800), real estate businesses and law offices.

Notable donors include: John Ingram ($1,800), Stephanie Ingram ($1,232.70), Bridgestone Communications Director Emily Weaver ($1,800), Lisa Giarratana ($1,300), former Ryman Hospitality CEO Colin Reed ($1,000), JIGSAW consulting firm co-founder Sam Reed ($1,000), William Freeman of Freeman Webb ($1,000), former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry ($700), former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang ($500), Silicon Ranch Project Development Associate Patrick Ferrell ($425), Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms Executive Director Rebecca Ratz ($350), Judge William Higgins ($350), Judge Jim Todd ($250), and state Sen. Charlane Oliver, D-Nashville ($250).

I find it interesting that an entity would fund multiple candidates for the same office. This is not new; I have observed it for years. I don't get it.  Do not the contributions cancel each other out? I guess they are just making sure their future phone calls are returned no matter which of the candidates to which they contributed get elected. A Better Tomorrow gave money to all the leading candidates except Alice Rolli.  Could such financial support for multiple other candidates actually help Rolli? If there are multiple viable candidates does that not mean that the chance of any one of those candidates winning outright is lessened? Do more viable candidates not increase Alice Rolli's chances of making the runoff? 

The candidate with the most funds-on-hand at the end of June was Jeff Yarbro with $509,849; followed by Matt Wilshire with $491,177; and Freddie O'Connell with $419,109. Other candidates trail considerably behind. 

Wilshire loaned his campaign $349,000. Jeff Yarbro only loaned his campaign $50,000 and O'Connell did not loan his campaign any money.

When a candidate gives money to his campaign, he cannot recoup that money. When a candidate loans himself money, he can raise money to pay himself back. As a practical matter, only if you win will anyone want to give you money to pay off your loan to your campaign. People want to ingratiate themselves with the winner and the winner can have fundraisers after his victory. No one cares to ingratiate themselves with the loser. I find it a little unseemly that a winning candidate for office can solicit fund to repay a loan to his campaign. Those who are big donors to candidates are often people wanting something from the city. Contributions prior to the election seem like a gamble; after the election it almost seems like paying extortion.

Natisha Brooks who is a very nice person, but a person who I do not think has what it takes to be mayor, loaned her campaign $62,630. I hope she can afford to lose it. 

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1 comment:

  1. Rod, they don’t care who wins, they just want to have access and control of whoever does prevail.