Apr 27, 2010

Candidate contributions: Groups donate funds for city council hopefuls

by Melinda Zosh

 

The ballot on May 4 will list eight candidates, four Republicans, four Independents and no Democrats. But research connects the people and politics through the funding of various candidates — in some cases showing strong democratic support. 

Campaign contributions were released early last week on the Virginia Public Access Web site, vpap.org, with Independent J.P. Vaughan coming in first with $19, 945. 

Mayor Joan Foster, also an Independent candidate, came in second with contributions totaling $15,897. Republican candidate Don Good came in third with contributions totaling $7,620. Independent candidate James Coleman has received $6,621 in donations. The funds accounted for all money donated as of March 31.

The political action committee Lynchburg First donated $2,000 each to Vaughan, Foster and Nelson, according to vpap.org. 

The group decided to endorse them, because the members felt that all three of the candidates would serve the entire city, according to Lynchburg First spokesman Julie Doyle, who is also co-owner and director of the Education and Research Foundation, Inc., and she serves as one of Centra Health’s 24-member Board of Directors.

The organization was formed in January 2010 for the purpose of supporting and raising money for “Independent candidates who are interested in running for office,” according to Doyle.

“My feelings are that the issues that come before city council are not issues that party politics should play a part in,” Doyle said. “Party politics can be very divisive, and it serves a place in state and national politics.”

Lynchburg resident Karen Kennedy was the top contributor to Lynchburg First with a donation of $5,750. 

Nine of the 24 members of Centra Health’s Board of Directors have contributed to either Lynchburg First or the Independent candidates. Several of the directors donated to both Lynchburg First and one or more candidates. 

Out of the eight candidates, the only three to receive money from individual members of the board were Foster, Vaughan and Nelson.

Centra Health Board members James K. Candler, Rodger W. Fauber, Marc A. Schewel and Walker P. Sydnor Jr. donated $1,000 each to the Lynchburg First committee.

Candler is the owner and President of Candler Oil Company, according to Centra Health’s Web site. He also donated $500 each to Foster and Vaughan. 

Since 1996, he has contributed $24,128 to Democrats, $1,500 to Republicans and $3,200 to other parties. He gave a $4,000 donation to the Shannon Valentine for Delegate Campaign committee last year, according to vpap.org.

The Shannon Valentine for Delegate, listed as a Democratic Candidate Committee, donated $500 each to Coleman,  Foster and Vaughan. 

The top contributors to Vaughan’s campaign are Lynchburg First ($2, 000), Elliot S. Schewel and Lynchburg’s chapter of the Virginia Association of Realtors, with a $1,000 donation each. 

Elliot S. Schewel, listed as a Democrat on vpap.org, has donated 97 percent of his total political donations totaling $178,648 to Democrats since 1996, and three percent totaling $4,500 to other parties.

Farm Team, a committee located in Richmond whose founding purpose is to “discuss reinvigorating Democratic women into the electorate statewide,” according to farmteam.org, gave Foster the most money, with a $2,500 contribution.

In addition to donating $1,000 to Lynchburg First, Sydnor, President of Scott Insurance Company, donated $500 each to Foster, Vaughan and Nelson. 

Sydnor has contributed $12,475 to political campaigns since 1999 with 76 percent of that money, $9,500 total given to Democrats, 4 percent, $475 given to Republicans and 20 percent, $2,500 given to other parties. Sydnor contributed $2,500 to Democrat Tim Kaine for his gubernatorial race and $1,500 to Democrat Mark Warner for his Senate campaign.

When asked for a comment last Thursday about his contributions, he said he would prefer not to comment directly and referred to his letter to the editor in the March 31 edition of the Lynchburg News and Advance.

“The battle call has gone out, and thousands of Liberty students are poised to vote the Liberty ticket,” Sydnor wrote in his letter. 

“That ticket is the Republican ticket. Should the three Republican candidates be elected, they will join an incumbent colleague on council to give the controlling majority that the Liberty administration seeks.”

The Republican candidates, Good, Hunsdon “H” Cary and Ted Hannon received several contributions from businesses. Clear Communications in Forest donated approximately $1,700 to each candidate. Maddox & Son Construction in Forest donated $500 to Good’s campaign. 

Banker Steel Company donated $750 to both Hannon and Good. Cary has received donations totaling $4,035, and Hannon has received $3,290. 

Liberty student Brent Robertson, who changed his party affiliation from Independent to Republican last week, received $2,050 for his campaign, including $300 of his own money.  

Wayne B. Booth, founder and CEO of BAT Masonry Company, a stone and brick contractor organiztion in Lynchburg, donated nearly half of that money, $1,000 total, to Robertson’s campaign. Booth has donated  $232,063 to Republicans since 1996. 

He donated more than $48,000 to Republican Mark Earley’s gubernatorial campaign and $43,500 to the Republican Bob McDonnell’s gubernatorial campaign last year, according to vpap.org.

Local residents who attended the Women’s Voter League meeting at the city council chambers last Thursday wrote questions on index cards, and the leaders of the organization picked several questions for the candidates. 

One person at that meeting asked Cary why he thought city council was run by Democrats. He had one response. 

“I see where funding comes from for the Independents,” Cary said, adding that he feels the funding for the Independents comes from Democrats. 

Vaughan was quick to answer. 

“I had 10 more checks come in today,” Vaughan said. “The first group that I audited, 68 percent of them were Republicans.”

 

Contact Melinda Zosh at

mzosh@liberty.edu.


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