Thursday, September 4, 2008

Missouri Governor's Campaign Finance Report - KC Star

Big money is back -- Hulshof, Nixon take in six-figure sums as contribution limits end
UPDATED, 4:14 p.m.

The big money is back in Missouri politics.

Within the first three days of the demise of limits on campaign contributions, Republican Kenny Hulshof and Democrat Jay Nixon took in at least a combined $1.62 million for their campaigns for governor.

Hulshof, who spent most of his funds winning a hard-fought Republican primary, made up ground by taking in $1,209,006 from Aug. 28 to 30. Nearly half his take -- $600,000 – came from the Republican Governors Association.

Hulshof also received $100,000 each from Jerry Hall, co-founder of banking software company Jack Henry & Associates, and Howard Wood, a Bonne Terre cable television magnet and cattle rancher who is active in nature conservation causes.

Nixon took in $411,650 in the same three days, including $100,000 from the St. Louis law firm of Gray Ritter & Graham and $75,000 from the Hershewe Law Firm in Joplin.

The gigantic sums swamp the old contribution limit of $1,350 from individuals, corporations, unions and all political fundraising committees not associated with a political party. Even contributions from political party committees were limited to about 10 times that amount.

Those limits disappeared last Thursday, when a new law took effect that ended all limits on campaign contributions. The new law, however, requires candidates to disclose any contribution of $5,000 or more to the Missouri Ethics Commission within 48 hours after receiving the donation.

By Tuesday, Nixon had filed four reports showing 20 contributions averaging $20,583 each.

Hulshof had filed two reports listing 25 contributions averaging $48,360 each. Even without counting the Republican Governors Association’s contribution, Hulshof still pulled in nearly 50 percent more than Nixon and his average contribution was $25,375, or 23 percent larger.

George Connor, a political scientist at Missouri State University, said the early returns from Missouri’s new era of limitless political donations do not portend a big fund-raising advantage for the GOP.

Republicans historically held an advantage in fundraising among big-ticket donors and they continue to have more such donors in Missouri, Connor said. But Democrats have made great strides in cultivating those donors, as evidenced by Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, he said.

“Democrats are now more focused on all aspects of fundraising that they used to be,” Connor said. “They have improved to the point that they have almost caught up with the Republicans and nearly overcome the advantage that Republicans traditionally held.”

Hulshof also took in $50,000 from Bill Holekamp of Holekamp Capital in St. Louis, and $50,000 from the St. Charles-based Lewis & Clark Leadership Fund, which raises money from conservative business groups and funnels it to Republican organizations.

Other contributors included Kansas City Southern’s political arm, $25,000; Rudolph Farber of Community Bank & Turst in Neosho, $25,000; and Schnuck’s Markets of St. Louis, $25,000.

Nixon’s large contributors included mortgage banker James Nutter Sr. of Kansas City, $25,000; Frontenac lawyer Robert Blitz, $25,000; investor Jeffrey Fort of Las Vegas, $25,000; and Richard Miller of Miller’s Professional Imaging in Pittsburg. Kan., $25,000

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