The most recent round of financial reports runs from January 1 to April 1 of this year.
Fox’s report is very large, with pages and pages of donors and then a few pages at then end listing his expenditures.
For longtime readers of this site, the reason I don’t give you the exact page count is because the state doesn’t process their reports the same way the FEC does, with page numbers.
One of the things I notice right away is that Fox probably doesn’t have to worry about a general election opponent.
He’s raised just under $70,000 for the general while he has almost $142,000 for the primary. There are currently no Democrats running for governor.
Just two PACs donated to Fox this cycle - BNSF Railway PAC gave $680 and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors also gave $680.
Here are some of the individual donors that stood out to me:
- Mark Baker
- Nancy Ballance
- John Bennion
- Jon Bennion
- Jon W. Bennion
- Mark Bretz
- Taylor Brown
- John Brueggeman
- Don Brummel
- Jon Bruning (Nebraska AG)
- Tom Butler
- Arthur Clinch
- Geraldine Custer
- Milton Datsopoulos
- John DeMarois
- Daniel Ellison
- Russ Fagg
- Ross Fitzgerald
- Terry Gauthier
- Michael Honeycutt
- Carol Jones
- Llew Jones
- Don “K” Kaltschmidt
- Dan Kenneally
- David Knapp
- Vondene Kopetski
- John Ostlund
- Neil Peterson
- Tom Richmond
- George Selover
- Bruce Tutvedt
- Steve Zabawa
Big names in business and state government there. Don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize most of them.
For a lot of these people, it’s angling to get a spot in Fox’s cabinet or some other cushy state gig.
That’s probably why people like Geraldine Custer and Russ Fag and Tom Richmond are giving so much.
In fact, most of the donors I listed gave $680.
I’m also ashamed of how many of Fox’s donors are skirting our campaign finance laws.
For instance, the owners of Town Pump - Dan, James, Matt and Kevin Kenneally - had their student children give $680 each to Fox. These would be Emilee and Eric and Meghann.
Hey, maybe they are in college and maybe that was their own money that they earned from their minimum wage jobs and just couldn’t wait to give to a politician more than twice their age...but I doubt it.
In fact, when you add up all the money that people with the last name Kenneally gave to Fox, you find out it’s 26 donations totalling $17,680.
That’s how rich Montanans buy Montana elections. They do it by donating twice (primary and general) and then giving everyone else in their family money to donate, too.
Lots of influence there...a helluva lot more than you and I have.
When it comes to Fox’s spending, most of the big ticket items were purchased with out-of-state firms.
This continues the trend in both the Democratic and Republican Parties of spending most of their donations not with Montana companies, but with companies that will create jobs in other states.
Examples of this include the $3,600 for 1,400 mailers from a Virginia company.
That was Fox’s largest expenditure. Most of the rest of his money was spent on accounting and compliance work with a Helena firm.
Well, since we’re here today, let’s go ahead and dig into some other reports while we’re at it.
Kim Dudik has raised about $5,100 for her AG race, and she has about $3,900 of that left in the bank.
She’s not expecting a primary opponent, as she’s not allocated any money to the primary, just the general.
About $400 of her donations are personal loans.
Here are some other donors:
- Laurie Bishop
- Pam Bucy
- Mary Anne Dunwell
- Edie McClafferty
- Tom Facey
- Bill Geer
- Jen Gross
- Katharin Kelker
- Connie Keogh
- Marilyn Marler
- Mary McNally
- Marilyn Ryan
- Diane Sands
- Bridget Smith
- Katie Sullivan
Most of those people are legislators or former legislators. Dudik will need a lot more support if she has a shot at this race.
I don’t think she’ll get a lot more support, however, as Democrats in Montana view Dudik as too far to the right on many issues. Her insistence on working with Republicans over the last few years to get issues into the news and to turn legislation into policy doesn’t help. Her past work with Tim Fox on issues like human trafficking doesn’t help.
Montana Democrats aren’t going to cozy-up to this campaign. I have a feeling they’ve already written this race off.
And when you dig into Jon Bennion’s reports for AG, you see why.
The guy’s raised over $50,000 for the primary so far, and he has $47,000 of that left. For the general he has an extra $19,000 more.
I’m not going to get into the donors, but I do notice a lot of big names giving to him. Many legislators that didn’t give to Fox are giving to Bennion. I also see the Galts giving him money.
He hasn’t spent a lot yet, and what he has spent has mostly been in Montana.
I suspect Democrats in Montana will mostly ignore Bennion, though they may come to regret this in later years.
Scott Sales didn’t file a report for his Secretary of State run, which tells me he hasn’t raised any money yet.
Corey Stapleton’s most recent report has him with $52,000 cash in the bank for the gubernatorial primary, and another $7,500 for the general. He raised nearly $22,000 this year so far while spending about $5,500.
Stapleton took $340 from the Charter PAC.
There are a lot of donors, but none of the names really stood out to me. I did notice that many of his donations are coming from Billings, however, 33 in total to be exact...though many are from the same people (primary and general) and their spouses.
For comparison, this cycle he had 16 donors from Helena, 10 from Great Falls, 7 from Bozeman, and 1 from Kalispell,
Gary Perry is also running for governor. The former Montana Senator was term-limited out in 2010.
He has no financial reports on file, telling me he hasn’t raised or spent any money yet.
Finally for governor we have Peter Ziehli. He’s raised $337 for the primary and has $102 of that leftover.
As far as I can tell, he loaned his campaign that money. On his report, Ziehli lists his occupation as a student.