Mike Karbassi is the leader in campaign contributions for next month’s special election for the Fresno City Council. The latest figures show Karbassi has raised approximately $140,000, nearly double the amount reported by any other candidate.

The special election to fill the vacant seat representing northwest Fresno is Aug. 13.

His closest fundraising rival, Lawrence Garcia, reported nearly $73,000 in contributions including $50,000 in loans to himself.

Four of the five active candidates in the race filed what is known as Form 460, which totals campaign contributions from Jan. 1, 2019 through June 30. The deadline to file, set by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, was July 5.

The city clerk’s office shows that Karbassi, Lawrence Garcia, Jared Gordon, and Oscar Sandoval filed by the deadline.

Felipe Arballo, who qualified for the ballot but later announced his withdrawal from the race, also filed.

One candidate, George Herman, did not submit paperwork on time, according to the city clerk’s online webpage.

The penalty from the state Fair Political Practices Committee is $10 for each day the report is late.

A Deeper Look at the Contributions

“I come from a small business background. It is important to spend contributions responsibly and wisely.”Mike Karbassi

Contributions from individuals are capped at $4,700 per election cycle from individuals and corporations. Campaign committees are allowed to give more.

Karbassi raised $138,731 for the first six months of the year, nearly all of it in monetary contributions.

“I come from a small business background. It is important to spend contributions responsibly and wisely. There is no candidate working harder, and that’s why we can build that support,” Karbassi said.

The fundraising and spending logs from the candidates reflect common campaign activities. Each raised funds from a mixture of individuals and businesses.

Karbassi reported eight individuals/businesses who contributed the maximum for the cycle. Gordon had a single maximum contribution from developer Richard Spencer. Neither Garcia nor Sandoval had any.

Garcia: Not Beholden to Donors

“I’m not backed by big money. I’m not backed by people I have to be beholden to.” Lawrence Garcia

“I’m not backed by big money. I’m not backed by people I have to be beholden to,” Garcia said of the difference between himself and Karbassi.

Garcia noted the different types of contributors, specifically developers. Karbassi has taken in the maximum $4,700 from companies including WCP Developers LLC of Clovis and Granville Homes.

(Disclosure: Darius Assemi, publisher of GV Wire, is the president/CEO of Granville).

“I think it can be won without those supporters. This is about voters voting for the right person, not necessarily the developers funding the right candidates,” Garcia said.

Still, Garcia has received contributions from developers and property managers as well such as Beal Developments ($1,000), Dirk Poeschel Land Development Services, Inc. ($500), and Brad Hardie, president of Regency Property Management ($500).

Sandoval raised $1,070, spending $998 — mostly on signs and literature. He has $71 in cash remaining.

Arballo spent all the money he raised, mainly on traditional campaign activities such as consultants, accounting, and literature.

Campaign Loans

Most of Garcia’s funds, 69%, came from two loans from himself totaling $50,000. According to his financial data, those loans are due at the end of 2025.

Gordon loaned himself 54% of his first-half contributions.  The $13,500 in loans are due between 2024 and 2030.

Karbassi received two loans from his Persian Rug Collections company, totaling $2,400. All but $100 has been paid back, with the balance due at the end of 2020. Another $1,000 loan from his aunt is due at the end of 2019.

Fundraising Comparison

 

Candidate Raised Loans Spent Cash on hand Debt
Mike Karbassi $138,731 $1,100 $56,706 $85,503 $4,364
Lawrence Garcia $72,874 $50,000 $60,449 $14,177 $51,753
Jared Gordon $24,945 $13,500 $23,666 $6,367 $18,588
Felipe Arballo $10,956 $4,554 $10,985 $0 $4,554
Oscar Sandoval $1,070 $0 $998 $71 $0

Notes: amount rounded to nearest dollar. As of Tuesday morning, candidate George Herman hadn’t filed campaign finance documents.

The next campaign reports are due Aug. 1.

Consultants

A look at how much the active candidates paid in the first six months for consultants/strategist (i.e. campaign managers/publicists, etc.):

Consultant Candidate Amount
Rose Strategy Communications Lawrence Garcia $16,100
Scozzari Company Lawrence Garcia $15,070
Carns Consulting Mike Karbassi $8,000
Gary Johns Mike Karbassi $1,000
Regan Slatic Mike Karbassi $275
Mike Martinez Mike Karbassi $175
Eagle Communications Jared Gordon $7,500

Update, 7/09/19

After this story originally published, candidate George Herman said his campaign raised $1,769 thus far. He intends to file the appropriate paperwork with the city.

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