Money in Politics

Belle writes: In a story for today’s Progress, Jake Mooney tallies campaign donations to current City Council candidates, as well as those who didn’t succeed in gaining their party’s nomination. The report leaves it to readers to analyze the significance, if any, of the donors, the recipients, and the sums, as well as the general role of money in City politics. Would perhaps some cvillenews.com readers like to contribute their analyses here?

Full disclosure: Waldo Jaquith was one of those candidates for City Council, raising $4,705. But it was actually a bunch less if you discount the services that we over-valued and didn’t actually have anything to do with the campaign but listed out of paranoia.

30 Responses to “Money in Politics”


  • By JAKE MOONEY

    Daily Progress staff writer

    Republican Rob Schilling received slightly more money in campaign contributions than the pair of Democrats he faces in Tuesday’s Charlottesville City Council election, newly released records indicate.

    From the beginning of the year until Friday, Schilling amassed $10,715 from 93 contributors, according to documents filed with the city’s voter registrar. The team of Mayor Blake Caravati and Alexandria Searls garnered $9,955 from 91 donors in the same period.

    Caravati is the only incumbent running for the two contested seats, and the list of Democrats who donated more than $100 is a virtual who’s-who of Charlottesville politics, reflecting the party’s domination of city elections in recent decades.

    Councilors Kevin Lynch and Maurice Cox — the only current council members listed as donors — gave $200 and $150, respectively. City Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman donated $250, while Circuit Court Clerk Paul Garrett gave $150.

    Former mayor Nancy O’Brien donated $250, and her husband, former mayor Francis Fife, gave $125. Former mayor Tom Vandever gave $250, while former councilor Jill Rinehart gave $200.

    Preston Coiner, a member of the council-appointed Board of Architectural Review, donated $200, and developer Chuck Lewis gave $250.

    Republican Schilling also got money from a developer: $500 from Gabe Silverman, owner of several large properties on West Main Street. In addition, he received $500 from former council candidate John Pfaltz and $500 from retired banker and former University of Virginia Board of Visitors member Hovey S. Dabney.

    J.F. Auguste Lorber III, an executive at Tiger Fuel, gave $500, and William B. Eure of media company Eure Communications donated $150.

    A real estate agent by profession, Schilling received $1,500 this week from the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors. The group gave Caravati the same amount.

    In donations listed separate from their joint account, Searls got $150 from real estate agent Joe Aust and Caravati got $300 from Democratic activist George Loper before the party’s primary. In total, Caravati reported raising $1,401 individually; Searls reported raising $1,200.

    Independent Stratton Salidis, the fourth candidate in Tuesday’s election, said Wednesday that he has not received any contributions greater than $100.

    Among the Democrats who sought the party’s nomination unsuccessfully, Joan Fenton was the leading fund-raiser, garnering $5,510. Waldo Jaquith raised $4,705, and Bern Ewert raised $3,246.

    Also this week, Caravati and Searls got the endorsement of the Charlottesville Professional Firefighters Association.

  • It’s important to note that the story didn’t list all the donations — just (I would imagine) the ones from people whose names the story’ author recognized or thought were interesting. Rob Schilling’s mother-in-law gave him money, too, and the political parties gave out some, and the candidates even gave themselves some. Then there were the many contributions of up to $99, which didn’t have to be listed individually.

    So all I’m saying is, be careful of using the story as some kind of resource. It’s by no means comprehensive and would be employed much more effectively for gossip purposes.

    There was also an interesting sidebar related to Danielson and Rolph.

    Appendix 1 — If this server (or whatever it’s called. I’m sure someone will nitpick) was banned from posting, this particular post would not have been possible.

    Appendix 2 — Pretty interesting off-topic discussion re: linguistics and the development of language going on over on the Honor Code thread. This, by the way, is what some people are now comparing to pissing on the floor. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, right?

  • I was surprised to see Gabe Silverman listed as one of Shilling’s donors. I thought that I had remembered that Gabe had supported Democrats — especially Toscano, but also Maurice Cox and (even, current candidate) Caravati — in the past. And he was a Waldo supporter for this year’s Democratic nomination, right?

    But my memory about past campaigns is sometimes too weak. I’d better go look around Loper’s site for details.

  • I don’t remember if Gabe donated to Waldo, though I bet someone around here would know. He did donate to Joan Fenton, though.

    Regardless of who he’s given to in the past, I’d venture that he supported Schilling this time because he’s unhappy with the current council and the way they (he thinks) screwed him over on the Union Station deal. Particularly Blake.

    To recap: there was going to be one of those much-heralded “public-private partnerships” on the West Main Street site, in which Silverman would get to build a shopping and residential building and the city would build underground parking and a bus transfer station. The city pulled out, though, when the two sides couldn’t agree on money-related details. As a result, the city is using its money to build the transfer station on Water Street, where they didn’t really want to build it. And Silverman is stuck with a big, unpaved parking lot.

  • I don’t remember if Gabe donated to Waldo, though I bet someone around here would know.

    He did. He donated — if memory serves — $250 in cash, plus $800~ in the one-month use of an office that we opted not to make use of, but felt that we should include in the official count.

  • I hear some people saying that because Rob Schilling has raised more than Caravati & Searls, that somehow makes him a credible threat to the Democratic ticket. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I should say) money will only take you so far in politics (as an example, the article also points out that Joan Fenton raised the most money during the Democratic primaries, yet she came in last place at the convention). What you need to win is a machine. The Republicans in this town simply don’t have one. There were less than 20 people at Schilling’s nominating convention, and I think half of them were reporters. The Dems had 450+ people at their convention. As long as those 450 each turn out a few of their friends, Caravati and Searls will win handily. The threat is that the Dems will get complacent and Schilling will capitalize on the fact that the Dems’ supporters are not motivated. Now’s the time for the Dems to gear up their troops.

  • Where is the full listing of this information? Just curious.

  • The city registrar’s office has it. So does George Loper’s web page, though I don’t know if he’s got all of it posted.

  • Oh, but there’s one thing: George’s web site doesn’t account for the mistake in the Caravati/Searls records: as detailed in the Progress story’s sidebar, a donation listed from Lee Danielson and Colin Rolph’s Main Street Retail Partners doesn’t exist. It was listed in a clerical mistake that is at once too mundane and too complicated to explain here.

  • LosNakedMariachi

    i guess i just thought that campaigh finanacne lawus prohibited this kind of byying and selling of politicians. i feel so jhaded about the entire government prcess not to mention how we vote in amerikkka theze days. i’m so annoyed that poeple are giving money to policitiacians and bying theirng votes!2!!!! WHY!!!!!! umbelieveable

    PS

    Jake Mooney is the greatest reporter of all time! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I think that Gabe is a real asset to the community, a good developer, and, moreover, the father of a set of kids.

    I’m still surprised by his switch in political support. I mean: from DFC folks to Schilling, for god’s sake!

    I’ve just found a treasure of an interview with him on Loper’s website. I hadn’t read this before, and becuase I’m not sure how many cvillenews.com readers regularly visit Loper’s superb site, I link it here.

    As an addendum — I wonder if anyone here cares to comment on Loper’s politics? I notice he gave to Caravati only (unless my quick scan is in error, or persistent errors in official contribution reporting remain).

  • As an addendum — I wonder if anyone here cares to comment on Loper’s politics? I notice he gave to Caravati only (unless my quick scan is in error, or persistent errors in official contribution reporting remain).

    Not that you’re implying anything untoward, but George is generally very up-front about disclosing his biases. His site is great, but he’s a Democrat (and a particular type of Democrat) first and a “journalist” (or whatever) second. Before the party primary, he endorsed only Caravati and was pretty public about it.

    Another caveat about the contribution disclosure process: The period that for which they had to report contributions ended last weekend, and anyone seeking to avoid getting their name in the paper could simply have waited until Monday to donate. Their names will get in the paper, too, but not until the next disclosure date — after the election.

    (I’m not saying Loper hid any donations that way, you understand. I was making two separate points.)

  • It’s interesting to note that Rob Schilling’s mother-in-law is a very liberal Democrat.

  • Gabe Silverman is a Democrat; Gabe Silverman gave a chunk of change to Schilling ONLY (of the four candidates). Why the surprise? Many Democrats and Independents are supporting Schilling and have given donations only to his campaign.

    Municipal politics should be about ideas and approaches to solving municipal issues. Partisan politics has been killing this city and it’s GREAT that forward thinking people are deciding “enough is enough.”

    Loper gave money ONLY to Caravati according to the article—you are correct in this.

  • Gear up the troops??? Have you been paying attention to what the candidates say or are you just blindly voting a ticket—an approach to municipal politics that is short-sighted and has been killing our city!

    It makes NO SENSE to support BOTH Searls and Caravati; they differ HUGELY on key issues such as the Parkway, for one.

    In case you haven’t noticed, Schilling has tremendous support from Democrats, Independents and Republicans, alike. Forward thinking people, and thankfully Charlottesville has MANY, are looking at issues, ideas, expertise and yes, personalities, this time around NOT political parties.

    The only thing Schilling is “capitalizing” on is the fact that diverse people across the entire city have had enough of the Democrat “machine” and are ready for a change,

    The mere fact that Schilling has outraised the “machine’s” candidates is unprecedented and clearly indicates his populist roots.

  • I’ve heard Democrat Colin Rolph gave money to Rob Schilling ONLY.

  • Jake Mooney is very cool!

    Okay, now we all know that the stuff politicians need, like signs and radio ads, don’t just appear. It costs money, so ALL politicians NEED donations. And people that want certain people to be elected will give them money, even just $10.00 or so.

    What you want are politicians that cannot be “bought” and that have a true and sincere core. This may sound funny, but it CAN happen. Look for people who kind of go their own way, look their own way, act their own way and do not “fit the mold” of a traditional politician—look for what you would NOT expect (like long hippie hair, maybe?) and you will find an honest person.

  • I notice he gave to Caravati only (unless my quick scan is in error, or persistent errors in official contribution reporting remain).

    Actually, George donates to every candidate that declares that they’re seeking the Democratic nomination — $50, if memory serves. That’s below the $100 reporting threshold, which is why it doesn’t appear on the disclosure list.

  • The only thing Schilling is “capitalizing” on is the fact that diverse people across the entire city have had enough of the Democrat “machine” and are ready for a change,

    The mere fact that Schilling has outraised the “machine’s” candidates is unprecedented and clearly indicates his populist roots.

    You’d be hard-pressed to demonstrate that Alexandria Searls is/was a part of any “machine.” :) Caravati and Simmons were the arranged candidates this time — Caravati as an incumbent and Simmons because it was his turn out of a sense of “decency and fair play.” Alex’s victory was very much an upset in terms of the forecast (and hoped-for by some) outcome of Caravati and Simmons as winners.

  • The mere fact that Schilling has outraised the “machine’s” candidates is unprecedented and clearly indicates his populist roots.

    I’d be interested in knowing how much of the roughly $10,000 that was raised for Rob Schilling was raised even before he announced his candidacy.

    I don’t ask the question rhetorically; I don’t know the answer. But, I do know that the local Republicans did send out fund-raising letters very early on (that is, well before Mr. Schilling announced his candidacy) to likely donors from both Charlottesville and Albemarle County. If there was significant response to those letters, it might convince me that those donors “had enough of the Democrat ‘machine'”, but I wouldn’t call that any indication of Mr. Schilling’s “populist roots”.

    So, can anybody offer details as to dates of contributions?

    Harry Landers

  • JMZ writes: I’d venture that he supported Schilling this time because he’s unhappy with the current council and the way they (he thinks) screwed him over on the Union Station deal. Particularly Blake.

    Here’s an excerpt – related to the current discussion here about the significance of campaign contributions and candidates, issues, et cetera — from Jake Mooney’s story for today’s Daily Progress (5/4/02):

    […] As food vendors arrived and bands did sound checks in preparation for Fridays After Five, [Republican Rob ] Schilling said from the steps of City Hall that plans to spend more than $3 million in federal money on the bus station and an overhaul of the mall’s eastern end are “wasteful, unpopular and nonsensical.”

    The proposed development, he said, signals the “eve of … destruction” for the Downtown Amphitheater, site of the weekly summer music festival. Some of the proposals developed by the team of architects working on the project involve redesigning the facility or moving it slightly to accommodate new buildings.

    Instead, Schilling said, the city should look into building the transfer station at another site, such as the property just west of downtown occupied by a former IGA supermarket.

    Another option, he said, is to reconsider the Union Station property on West Main Street, where the city planned to build the station until years of negotiations with developer Gabe Silverman, the owner of the land, broke down in July.

    Schilling conceded that a reconciliation with Silverman would be difficult, but added, “I’m an optimistic person. … I believe that with the right approach it can be done.”

    According to city records of campaign contributions greater than $100, Silverman has donated $500 to Schilling and nothing to his opponents, Democrats Alexandria Searls and Mayor Blake Caravati and independent Stratton Salidis.

    “It’s my understanding that we’ve never had a clear answer from the city as to what exactly happened — only that they couldn’t come to terms,” Schilling said, intimating that the impasse may have been the result of “personality issues” between Silverman and city representatives.

    Councilor David J. Toscano, who was part of the city team that negotiated with the developer, disputed that interpretation Friday.

    “Everybody concluded that the numbers didn’t work, and I think everyone was disappointed by that,” he said, adding, “I don’t think the numbers have changed, and I think the basic problem with the sites that Rob and others are discussing is that the city doesn’t own them.”

    Moreover, city officials felt pressure to move quickly to find a new site, lest a deadline pass to use the federal money or lose it.

    Schilling criticized that approach, calling it “cutting off our toes in order to make the shoe fit.”

    “If the federal grant money runs out,” he said, “we’ll reapply and get more federal grant money.”

    Toscano dismissed the idea. “I understand he’s looking for a campaign issue, and that’s one that I think is reasonable to explore, but when you’re in the position to govern you make decisions that you believe are in the best interest of the taxpayer,” he said.

    “I don’t think he’s the only one who’s raised these concerns,” Toscano added, “but again, we were looking at the prospect of losing $3 million in federal funds that we felt could revitalize that end of the mall.”

    The architects working on the project will be in the city next week, and are scheduled to meet with councilors on Wednesday. No final decisions have been made about the location or design.

    For a flashback to the time of the “breakdown” of City/Silverman negotiations, see Jake Mooney’s stories for the Daily Progress (6/1/01) and (6/4/01).

  • I’ve got a question: did Simmons not file a contribution and expenditure report?

    I didn’t spot his records in the Daily Progress article (shown above in this same thread) nor in Loper’s accounting (in this latter report read “Silverman” for “Townsquare Associates”; he gave to Waldo and Fenton).

  • Interesting …

    The voter registrar’s office didn’t provide one, so I guess either they forgot or he didn’t do one.

  • Interesting …

    The voter registrar’s office didn’t provide one, so I guess either they forgot or he didn’t do one.

    Well, perhaps — but I could always be mistaken.

    One would suspect (or I would, at least) that he would have had some donations, at least; as Waldo reminds us with his post (and with the article he links therein), Simmons was the one of the two choices of the party chiefs (Snook & Edwards; and perhaps others here not named) and so the logical inference would be that he’d be supported accordingly.

    But perhaps none were over the $100 mark, which apparently requires the special notice? But still, he’d still have to report the total, right?

  • Hmmmm. Toscano’s comments sound lame. You do not put a transfer station in a bad location because you are “going to lose the (federal grant) money.” This is nonsensical and not the leadership citizens deserve from municipal government.

    Caravati has said publicly that the Council has been working on the location of the transfer station for ten years!! (Caravati also publicly has defended locating the transfer station at the east end of the mall.) Ten years and the best the Council comes up with is the end of the mall, destruction of the ampitheater as we know it, etc. Time for some fresh ideas, maybe??

    Almost everyone I’ve ever talked to, no matter the political party, thinks a bus transfer station belongs in a CENTRAL location, as Schilling said. Vote common sense. Vote Schilling May 7th.

  • I’ll give it to you, you are certainly reaching….

    YOU ARE ALSO INCORRECT, SIR. NO FUND RAISING LETTERS FROM THE SCHILLING CAMPAIGN WENT OUT BEFORE SCHILLING ANNOUNCED HIS CANDIDACY.

    I know for a fact that Schilling received his donations AFTER he announced his candidacy. He has received donations throughout the campaign, though, from, and I will say it again, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. Some of the most generous donators have been Democrats.

    You may not like it, but something about this guy has struck a chord with people across party, economic and social lines. He has people from all parties calling him all the time just to talk, to volunteer, etc.

    Maybe it’s time to just accept that he is a POPULIST candidate for whatever reason.

  • Maybe I wasn’t very clear in my question as to timing of contributions. Give me one more try?

    I didn’t mean to suggest that the Schilling campaign solicited funds before Mr. Schilling announced his candidacy. But, I do think that local Republicans did engage in fund-raising prior to that time for the purpose of supporting the candidacy of one or two Republican challengers to Democratic control of the Charlottesville City Council.

    There’s nothing wrong with such a fund-raising effort, if it did take place. I only bring up the point because, if there was significant money raised before Mr. Schilling entered the race and, if this money found its way to Mr. Schilling’s campaign fund, it would indicate not so much a populist attraction to this particular candidacy as a well-organized effort to elect a Republican (i.e. any Republican, not necessarily Mr. Schilling).

    So, my questions are:

    1. Did the Republicans begin fund-raising prior to Mr. Schilling’s announcement of his candidacy?

    2. If so, did this money find its way to his campaign fund, or was it used on his behalf?

    I don’t know the answers, I’m just asking the questions.

    Harry Landers

  • I’ll just chime in, Harry, to say I’m interested in this matter but don’t know the answer to your query.

  • Anonymous writes: Almost everyone I’ve ever talked to, no matter the political party, thinks a bus transfer station belongs in a CENTRAL location, as Schilling said.

    Schilling is proposing reconsidering the Silverman-owned West Main site as well as opening up new consideration of the site of former IGA supermarket.

    Concerning the location of the station, there was an interesting exchange of ideas on the STAMP list during the month of March (it was here, but now it’s a dead link). Anyone know where this information has gone? Or otherwise remember the details of this discussion?

  • 1) Absolutely not.

    They didn’t think anyone was going to run this season. You should ask Rob why he decided to run, it’s an interesting story.

    2) Given there was no fund raising effort prior to Schilling’s announcement, the answer is No.

    Clear things up a bit?

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