Sales tax campaign: “I feel delighted” at raising $6.5 million, says finance chairman Dave Stockert
By David Pendered
This story has been updated with details of campaign contributions and expenses.
By Dave Stockert’s account, he and the campaign finance team have done their job in helping to convince voters to support the proposed 1 percent sales tax for transportation.
They’ve raised about $6.5 million to pay for the advocacy campaign being waged by Citizens for Transportation Mobility, the group Stockert chairs. Now it’s up to the professional campaign staff to prevail with the resources at hand, Stockert said in a meeting with reporters Monday afternoon.
“I feel delighted that we raised it,” Stockert said. “We’ve taken that issue off the table. I think we have an effective campaign. I’m confident it will be good enough when we get to July 31. We don’t have to win 80 percent.”
The campaign contributions definitely weren’t for the faint of heart.
The campaign paid more than $300,000 to professional fundraisers in order to tally the sizes of donations more typical of a top-of-the-ticket race.
The top nine donors contributed a total of more than $1.87 million. A third of that amount was contributed by the road paving industry – two companies and one trade association.
Ranked by size and alphabet, the donors are:
1) Cox Enterprises, Inc. – $250,000;
2) Georgia Highway Contractors Assoc. – $250,000;
3) Georgia Power – $250,000;
4) Yancey Bros. Co. – $250,000.
5) C.W. Matthews – $200,000;
6) The Coca Cola Co. – $187,500;
7) National Association of Realtors – $185,000;
8) Delta Air Lines, Inc. – $ 150,000;
9) The Home Depot USA – $150,000.
Campaign expenditures ranged from salaries for interns to contracts with media firms to spread the message. Three notable expenses include:
1) Smart Media – $1.99 million;
2) Hill Research – $289,000;
3) Red Clay Strategies – $119,000.
The campaign also purchased advertising in local media, including $2,200 from saportareport.com; $12,813 from the Atlanta Business Chronicle; and $700 from Atlanta Intown Media.
Stockert said the fund-raising target for CTM has always been about $6.5 million. The target range of $6 million to $8 million that was widely discussed last autumn included funding for MAVEN, or Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network, he said.
MAVEN has been raising money for its own voter education campaign. MAVEN is permitted by Internal Revenue Service rules to educate voters but, unlike CTM, is not allowed to advocate for passage. MAVEN has its own social media and advertising campaign.
Stockert said he has no information about MAVEN’s fund-raising matters.
Campaign spokesman Bert Brantley said MAVEN’s financial affairs will be handled through its tax report to be filed next year with the IRS.
CTM did not release its campaign financial disclosure when Stockert met with reporters. Instead, a press release was distributed. Brantley said the disclosure would be filed electronically before 5 p.m., ahead of the midnight deadline set by the state Campaign Finance Commission. Brantley fulfilled his promise to send an alert when the disclosure had been filed and was available on the commission’s website.
The web page of the campaign finance commission states that the disclosure was due July 16 and a grace period ends today. The page does not specify a specific time of day for disclosures that are filed electronically.
The campaign did provide the following information in its press releases that were distributed before the campaign financial disclosures were posted:
- More than $6.47 million has been raised;
- More than $6.8 million is expected to be raised by July 31;
- A total of 685 cash contributions, and 40 in-kind contributions, have been made;
- Cash contributions total $5.99 million;
- In-kind contributions total $477,000;
- The campaign had $1.1 million in cash available to be spent, as of July 16;
- More than 1,000 volunteers have made over 300,000 voter calls and knocked on more than 25,000 doors.
Citizens for Transportation Management arranged the meetings with reporters last week. All reporters agreed not to release any information discussed at the meeting until 5 p.m.
Stockert seemed at ease as he talked with reporters representing WABE, the Atlanta Business Chronicle and saportareport.com. Meetings with groups of other reporters were scheduled before and after this event.
The conversation went on for about 35 minutes. Stockert wore a sports coat and a dress shirt open at the collar, which is many Atlanta circles is the modern day, business casual.
Stockert’s day job is as president and CEO of Post Properties, Inc., a real estate investment trust that’s been on an uptick in recent months.
Post’s market cap Monday was $2.8 billion and share prices just before the closing bell were at about $51.03, up from a 52-week low of $32.80 on Oct. 3, according to quotes.wsj.com/PPS.