Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ron Saxton's expenditures

OK, it's not exactly leisurely reading, but I've spent some time looking through Ron Saxton's expenditure report, and there are a few interesting things.

1. Consultants

Saxton's campaign has spent a boatload of money on consultants -- about $280,000 worth. Included in that group is the Jackson-Alvarez Group from just outside Washington, D.C. Saxton paid $21,850 to Jackson-Alvarez between Sept. 13 and Dec. 8, 2005.

Who is Jackson-Alvarez? We get a clue from Georgiana Vines, a columnist in the Knoxville, Tenn. News Sentinel. In a story from last month, she noted that one candidate in the US senate race to replace Tennessee's Bill Frist used Jackson-Alvarez (emphasis mine):
(Former Chattanooga Mayor Bob) Corker's use of the Jackson-Alvarez Group of McLean, Va., headed by Gary Maloney, is the subject of news stories and other material recently mailed anonymously to the news media. Maloney has a reputation as a Republican opposition researcher, who did work for Corker when he ran against fellow Republican Bill Frist for the Senate in 1994, according to news accounts at the time. Frist won the election.

Ben Mitchell, Corker's campaign manager, said Corker is using Maloney to "make sure that we fully understand the public record so all communications are factual and true." He said all candidates have such research done.

"Campaigns are about candidates, not about staff. The campaign should be about Bob Corker, what he has done and what he plans to do and what other candidates are running on," Mitchell said.

As for the material mailed anonymously, Corker's campaign has made no attempt to determine who is responsible for it, he said.

The return label of one envelope mailed to the News Sentinel has an address of the Lebanon Democrat in Middle Tennessee. Clint Brewer, the newspaper's managing editor, said his newspaper did not mail the material.

"The one we received had a return address from another newspaper in Memphis," he said.
USA Today, in a 1999 story, described Jackson-Alvarez as "a firm in McLean, Va., that does research on opposition candidates."

A Republican opposition researcher. Translation: an organization that specializes in digging up dirt on opponents. What "opposition" would Ron Saxton need to research in the last four months of 2005, more than six months before the primary? That's about the time that Jason Atkinson and Ted Kulongoski both announced their intentions to run; Kevin Mannix was already in the race.

Another consultant is Cottington Consulting of Milwaukie, Minnesota. Between Oct. 3, 2005 and Feb. 28, 2006, Saxton's campaign paid Cottington $55,165.84, usually in $7,500 chunks.

Who is Cottington? That's a little bit more difficult to ascertain, but there's one thing we can be fairly certain about: there is no city of Milwaukie in Minnesota.

A little bit of searching turned up a Republican consultant named Scott Cottington, who is listed in Bloomington, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. Scott Cottington, it turns out, has some Northwest ties. He contributed to a book by lobbyist Tony Payton, who worked on George Nethercutt's 2002 Washington campaign for the US House. Cottington also worked on Cathy McMorris' successful 2004 campaign in Washington State's Fifth District, and joined Dave Reichert's successful House campaign in September 2004.

Other clients include:
  • Barbara Cubin, a US Representative from Wyoming;
  • Larry Diedrich of South Dakota, who lost a special election for the US House;
  • Jeff Fortenberry, a US Representative from Nebraska;
  • Tom Petri, a 14-term US Representative from Wisconsin;
  • Adam Taff of Kansas, who lost a US House race (and later pleaded guilty to using campaign funds to obtain a home loan);
  • Bob Brown of Montana, who lost the governor's race.
Of that group, Petri is definitely a liberal Republican, and Reichert and Taff sound like moderates at best. Others are either clearly conservative (Cubin and Fortenberry) or unknown. In this story on Taff, Cottington writes about "How a pro-choice underdog won a tough republican congressional primary in Kansas." So it seems that Cottington advises people all over the Republican political spectrum.

Again, it's reasonable to assume this is the same consultant used by Saxton, but that's not 100 percent clear.

One consultant who I found quite interesting was Patrick Davis of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Davis didn't get a lot of Saxton's money -- just $2,707.88 between November and February, including $853 in travel expenses -- but he sounds like a heavyweight. He was the National Republican Senatorial Committee political director in 2003 and 2004, and the NRSC west region director between 1999 & 2002. Prior to that, he was the South Dakota Republican Party executive director for five years. He also worked as a staff assistant with President George H.W. Bush for three years. After working for the NRSC, he started his own consulting business.

There was another consultant who earned some of Saxton's money -- Marcus McCarthy of Washington, D.C. -- but I couldn't find much on him. He was paid just shy of $12,000 on Feb. 14. It looks like he worked on the Nethercutt for Senate campaign.

Closer to home, Saxton paid Portland polling firm Moore Information a total of $36,230 between Nov. 3, 2005 and March 15, 2006.

2. Advertising

On the advertising side, Saxton has paid $46,000 to Pinnacle Direct Mail of Stillwater, Minnesota. I have to wonder if they're tied in with Cottington, considering the address, but I don't know. The last payment -- more than $14,000 -- was paid on Feb. 9, so I was starting to wonder what Saxton got for this money. I've received two spendy full-color flyers in the mail in the last week, so that's a start. I'm not sure it's $46,000 worth, but it's a start.

Saxton has also paid more than $100,000 to Mentzer Media Service of Townsend, Maryland, roughly $10,000 every two weeks since the beginning of the year.

What has that translated into? Radio advertising. Between Jan. 13 and March 23, here are Saxton's radio expenses:
  • KEX, Portland: Seven payments, $18,041.25
  • *†KXL, Portland: Four payments, $16,065
  • *KAST, Astoria: Eight payments, $2,422.50
  • *KCMX, Medford: Five payments, $2,868.75
  • *Radio Northwest Network: Four payments, $10,200
  • KPAM, Portland: Four payments, $1,938
  • KACI, The Dalles: Four payments, $967.40
  • †KLBM/KBKR, LaGrande/Baker City: Four payments, $1,162.80
  • KUGN, Eugene: Four payments, $2,180.25
  • *KWRO, Coos Bay: Five payments, $1,468.80
  • *KQEN, Roseburg: Four payments, $775.20
  • KMED, Medford: Four payments, $3,876
  • KAJO, Grants Pass: Four payments, $2,180.25
  • *KBND, Bend: Four payments, $2,180.25
  • †KSRV, Ontario: Four payments, $726.50
  • *KUMA, Pendleton: Three payments, $749.70
  • KAGO, Klamath Falls: Four payments, $2,519.40
* Broadcasts Lars Larson's Northwest show
† Broadcasts Lars Larson's national show

So for those who think Lars is endorsing Saxton as a way to gain advertising, I'm not sure the numbers bear that out. Saxton spent $38,619.50 for stations that broadcast the Lars Larson show in some fashion, and $31,702.55 for stations that have no affiliation with the Mouth of the Northwest. Yes, it's more to Lars and his bevy of stations, but not significantly more.

One of the funny things for me is that, with the exception of Moore Information, all those firms and consultants used by Saxton’s campaign are located outside the state of Oregon. Quite a ways outside the state of Oregon.

Despite the large amount spent by Saxton, his total for consulting and advertising (about $325,000) is about 27 percent of all funds raised. Just for comparison's sake, Kevin Mannix spent about $215,000 (about 25 percent of all funds raised) for consultants, the lion's share (17 of every 20 dollars) going to Creative Strategies of Lake Oswego. Jason Atkinson spent about $75,000 (28 percent of all funds) on various consulting sources, most in Oregon.

If I have time, I'll share a few interesting things I learned in the Mannix and Atkinson C&Es.


  • At 4/25/2006 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I believe advertising had a LOT to do with Lars and Saxton, but not just in terms of dollars. The dollar figure is far less important than the image factor.

    It is generally bad business to take actions that are in conflict with your advertisers. Saxton bought ads. Jason did not. If Lars and KXL were running paid Saxton ads while at the same using air time to endorse Atkinson, that would have sent a message to ALL advertisers: "don't do business here; they endorse the competition."

    It's also important to the reputations of Lars and KXL to be on record as supporting a "winner." That means that they might believe Jason is the best candidate, but that the predict Saxton will win the primary. What they base that on, I don't know. But the ability to buy many ads is certainly something to point at. Lars probably made a calculation that, with his support, Jason might win, but Ron WOULD win. So rather than risk his reputation on principle, he chose to throw in with the big dog in the fight.

    It's too bad, really. The real result will be that listeners will lose faith in Lars. He calculated poorly.

  • At 4/25/2006 8:02 PM, Blogger David said…

    Where did you get a copy of that report?

  • At 4/25/2006 9:06 PM, Anonymous Mac McLean said…

    It sounds like Mr. Saxton is running a professional, serious campaign and getting the best people on board to help him! The other candidates just wish they could do the same...

  • At 4/25/2006 9:55 PM, Anonymous db Lulu said…

    great work. This stuff is very interesting. I'd like to know what the candidates really get for all that money they give to consultants.


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