2020 Elections Ahead Sign

The Scottsdale City Council and mayoral races have become cases of the haves and the have-nots, according to campaign finance reports filed in July.

The reports, covering April 1 through June 30, show significant disparities in fundraising totals and remaining cash reserves among the 14 candidates running for office in Scottsdale, with one Council campaign ending the quarter with just $38 on hand while another has over $46,000 in the bank.

The spread is no less severe in the mayoral election, where the campaigns for Councilwomen Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte have well over $100,000 on hand, while former Councilwoman Lisa Borowsky’s campaign had just over $5,000 left at the end of the second quarter.

Fundraising is not a guarantee of electoral success, though. 

In 2018, Councilwomen Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead were the top vote-getters in the three-seat City Council election despite bringing in significantly less money than Councilwoman Linda Milhaven, who received the third most votes, and Bill Crawford, who was not elected.

Outgoing three-term mayor Jim Lane out-raised his opponents in his past two elections, though former Mayor Mary Manross had raised more when she lost to Lane in 2008.

Still, candidates with more cash on hand do have an advantage as they will be able to spend that money on voter outreach or save it if they qualify for the general election.

Despite the overall fundraising disparity, Borowsky led all mayoral candidates in total fundraising in the second quarter, bringing in $54,816 – including over $16,000 in loans from the candidate. 

Borowsky was already in a fundraising hole as she was the last candidate to enter the race and was the only one to report no money raised in the first quarter.

Borowsky’s campaign spent nearly all of the money it brought in, shelling out nearly $50,000 in the quarter, mostly for television and online advertising.

Klapp’s campaign actually spent more than it brought in the last quarter, but still has over $125,000 cash on hand, thanks to a strong fundraising push at the end of 2019 that saw it bring in over $100,000.

Klapp had relatively low haul compared to previous quarters, bringing in $23,288.

Korte’s camp spent over $30,000 versus $33,679 in contributions in the second quarter but still has nearly $107,000 left over after outraising the field in early 2020.

Former Councilman David Ortega’s mayoral campaign had the second-highest fundraising total in the second quarter, bringing in around $35,000 with $13,000 coming from loans from the candidate. He spent about $23,000 and still has over $56,000 on hand.

Former Councilman Bob Littlefield’s mayoral campaign put up strong fund-raising numbers relative to previous quarters but still ended the second quarter with less cash than all candidates except Borowsky.

Littlefield’s campaign brought in over $28,700 – 75 percent of its total haul for the entire campaign. That included $9,000 in loans from the candidate. The campaign had $22,800 cash on hand when the quarter ended.

In the council race, Tammy Caputi’s campaign ended June in the strongest financial position with over $46,000 in the bank. The Caputi campaign brought in over $40,000 in the second quarter, though $5,000 of that came from the candidate herself.

The campaigns of John Little (19,748), Councilman Guy Phillips ($19,404) and Bill Crawford (18,950) all ended the quarter with sizable reserves as well.

Crawford led that group with nearly $28,600 raised in the second quarter, followed by Phillips at $23,560 and Little at $18,830.

The campaigns for Betty Janik ($23,960) and Tom Durham ($17,343) also had similar donation totals at the end of June, though those figures were bolstered by loans from Janik ($12,000) and Durham ($7,000) themselves. 

Janik and Durham each ended the quarter with less than $10,000 cash on hand after each campaign made strong marketing pushes.

Janik’s campaign spent over $22,000, mostly on marketing, online advertising and signage. Durham’s campaign spent around $17,500, mostly on marketing, printing and signs.

The campaigns for Becca Linnig ($7,125), Kevin Maxwell ($2,686) and Michael Auerbach ($925) had the lowest fundraising totals in the second quarter.

Linnig’s campaign still retained about $11,000 cash on hand while Maxwell’s had about $2,800.

Auerbach spent most of what money he had on Facebook ads, signage and other supplies and has just $38 cash on hand at the end of June, records show.

Thus far, all candidates have brought in nearly $340,000 in total contributions during the second quarter. That money flowed in from all corners of Scottsdale – and outside the city as well.

Unsurprisingly, the development community again injected significant cash into the campaign, with developers and individuals in related industries contributing around $100,000 this quarter.

Those contributions have become a political lightning rod as some candidates and community members have called on the city to ban or limit contributions from developers.

Contributions from the development community accounted for 68 percent of donations to Klapp and 58 percent to Korte.

Contributions from individuals with ties to the development community accounted for a significant percentage of contributions to the campaigns for Linnig (89 percent), Crawford (48 percent), Little (65 percent) and Caputi (45 percent).

Phillips – who has been critical of developers as of late – received developer contributions totaling $4,000, or about 16 percent of the $25,620 his campaign brought in during the second quarter

Several homebuilders were major contributors last quarter, including Camelot Homes. Individuals with ties to Camelot gave a total of $21,250 to the campaigns for Klapp, Korte, Caputi, Crawford, Linnig and Little.

Grayhawk Development also contributed $7,000 to campaigns for Klapp, Korte and Little. 

Opposition to specific developments, specifically Southbridge Two, also yielded financial benefits for some candidates.

Littlefield, Ortega, Janik, Durham and Phillips all vocally opposed Southbridge Two and their campaigns took in $8,600 each from Michael and Cynthia Simonson, who own properties in downtown Scottsdale. They contributed around $87,000 to the referendum campaign against Southbridge Two.

Scottsdale’s bar and club owners also contributed to campaigns in quarter two.

Individuals employed by Evening Entertainment Group, which owns several clubs downtown, gave $1,200 to Klapp and $3,000 to Crawford.

Shawn and Steven Yari, who own many of the venues in the Entertainment District, gave $2,000 to Little.

Downtown venue owner Ryan Hibbert with Riot Hospitality gave $5,600 to Caputi, who also received $1,500 from Bill Asher, a Los Angeles-based porn producer with ties to the Entertainment District.

Asher, co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, made headlines in 2005 when he became a part owner in southern Scottsdale strip club Babe’s Cabaret alongside pornographic actress Jenna Jameson.

State liquor license records show that the club – now called Bones Cabaret – is now owned by Todd Borowsky, brother of mayoral candidate Lisa Borowsky.

Corporation Commission records show that Asher co-owns several business entities that own venues in the city. That includes Pretty Please Lounge and Bridge Entertainment LLC, which Asher co-owns with Ryan Jocque, who contributed $1,500 to Caputi’s campaign.

In 2019, the Progress reported that Jocque and Bridge Entertainment were entangled in an ongoing lawsuit brought by investors in restaurants like The Montauk and Diego Pops alleging they were bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments. .

Vapid Inc, another entity owned by Jocque and Asher, owns an office building in the Entertainment District that they plan to turn into a restaurant and bar, according to plans filed with the city in 2019. That project is awaiting action by the city’s Development Review Board.

Political and other campaign committees are also starting to play a role in the election.

Lane last ran for office in 2016 but his campaign ended that cycle with cash on hand. This year, it contributed $1,500 each to the campaigns for Klapp and Crawford. 

Klapp’s campaign also received a $500 contribution from Southwest Gas’ PAC.

Southwest Gas also gave $500 to Korte, who also received $800 from Salt River Project’s PAC.

Scottsdale’s retired residents also contributed heavily to campaigns, accounting for over $50,000 in contributions.

In the mayoral race, 54 percent of donations to Littlefield came from retired individuals, who accounted also for 40 percent of donations to Ortega. 

In the council race, retired residents accounted for a large percentage of contributions to Durham (53 percent), Janik (48 percent) and Phillips (33 percent).